String quartet plays for Candlelight group HOWARD COUNTY DIVERSIONS

October 23, 1992|By Patrick Hickerson | Patrick Hickerson,Contributing Writer

For those who wish to have a very un-Halloween-like evening, the Candlelight Concert Society may offer the appropriate setting.

The critically praised Emerson String Quartet will perform at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre Oct. 31 -- an alternative to doorbells, bite-size candy and bar soap.

The Candlelight Concert Society must be commended for having such a strong schedule of performances early in its 20th season.

Last Saturday the Waverly Consort performed music from the time of Christopher Columbus during the week of the quincentenary of Columbus' arrival in America.

The Emerson String Quartet is a strong following act that has played at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall in London and Salzburg. This will be its fifth performance at Candlelight

Since its formation during the Bicentennial, the group, named after the 19th century New England transcendentalist, has experienced success that few classical music groups can claim: Grammy awards, an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon and a legion of music critics from London to Los Angeles who can't type one negative word about these four men.

The quartet can count itself among the premier chamber music groups of the late 20th Century.

"Their musicianship is outstanding," said Bonita Bush, program director for the Candlelight Concert Society. "They work so well together. Their performance style is enthusiastic. Whether it's contemporary or the mainstream classical, they do everything excellent."

One of the group's two Grammys was in the category of Best Classical Album for its recording of Bartok's complete String Quartets, a first for a chamber music ensemble.

Bartok and the Emerson String Quartet share a special relationship in another of the ensemble's significance moments. Besides the Grammy-award winning recording, the group performed the complete Bartok quartets one evening in 1981 as part of a New York City centenary celebration for the composer's birth that elicited positive reviews and, according to Ovation magazine, "solidified the group's standing as one of the finest young American quartets, if not the finest." Two of the quartet's founding members, violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, were students at the Julliard School. The addition of violinist Lawrence Dutton, another Julliard graduate, in 1977 and cellist David Finckel in 1979 rounded out today's quartet. Its list of early achievements includes resident quartet at the Smithsonian Institution and first resident quartet of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

One of the signatures of the group's performances is that Mr. Drucker and Mr. Setzer take the unusual step of alternating as first chair, adding variety and strength.

Three quartets are scheduled for the Oct. 31 performance: Mozart's string quartet in B-flat Major, K. 589; Shostakovich's string quartet No. 7 in F-sharp Minor, Opus 108 and Beethoven's string quartet in E-minor, Opus 59, No. 2.

"Even if your not well-tuned into chamber music, you can't miss their talents. They exude with great stage personalities. They communicate their music well," said Ms. Bush.

The Emerson String Quartet will perform at 8 p.m. Oct. 31 in the Smith Theatre at Howard Community College. Tickets are $15, $13 for seniors and full-time students. Information: 720-1027, (301)596-6203.

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