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News Detail

Kelemen Quartet lives up to hype in electrifying concert Source: Scott Cantrel, Dallas Morning News

Kelemen Quartet lives up to hype in electrifying concert Published 04 June 2011 11:44 PM “The most electrifying string-quartet concert in recent memory happened Saturday night at Southern Methodist University’s Caruth Auditorium. It was the American debut of the 2-year-old Kelemen Quartet, four amazing young Hungarians booked for two local performances by Chamber Music International.

Violinists Barnabás Kelemen and Gábor Homoki, violist Katalin Kokas and cellist Dóra Kokas delivered apparently effortless virtuosity, finely honed ensemble, enormous flair and keen feeling for melodic and harmonic nuances. There wasn’t a note on auto-pilot.

Like a child smearing ketchup on everything, too many string players lay on vibrato as an all-purpose condiment. But the Kelemen heightened the extraordinary harmonic tensions opening Mozart’s Dissonance Quartet by beginning with no vibrato, then gradually adding a subtle bit.

Even in Beethoven’s E minor Razumovsky Quartet (No. 2) and Bartók’s Quartet No. 5, vibrato was strategically withheld as often as it was applied, as a genuine expressive device. When applied it tended to be appealingly slower and gentler than American norms.

Dynamics ranged from very soft to very loud, astonishingly so in the more turbulent parts of the Bartók. In fact, the Mozart and Beethoven would have been more idiomatic with fortissimos considerably less extreme than those in the Bartók. But only in the last two movements of the Beethoven did intonation briefly suffer in the assault.

Within the extremes, the tiniest motifs were caringly shaped and directed. This was highly inflected and vividly interactive music-making, exciting and yet eloquent.

Let’s hope for an early return for this outstanding ensemble. But maybe next time — with spoken program notes edited down to maybe five minutes and a less interminable intermission — an 8 p.m. concert won’t run until 10:25.”

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