COLUMBIA -- How valuable an institution the Arditti String Quartet is was demonstrated by its first selection last night in the Candlelight series at Smith's Auditorium at Howard Community College. That no other quartet plays difficult 20th century music so lucidly and persuasively was obvious in the way it performed Webern's "Five Pieces for String Quartet, Opus 5."
This is great music that never seemed forbidding.
The third piece lasted barely a minute. But in that minute, the Ardittis -- violinists Irvine Arditti and David Alberman, violist Garth Knox and cellist Rohan de Saram -- suggested that pound for pound the Webern, with its pouncing pizzicatos, is the equal of a great Beethoven scherzo.
The quartet was always attentive to the work's pointillistic textures. The fourth movement, with three of its players producing eerie sounds on the bridge and the fourth on the fingerboard, could not have been more perfect.