An ardent Italian evening from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

Mar 08, 2017 464

BY: Bruce Hodges

It is a little astonishing that Giuseppe Verdi wrote 26 operas before delving into the string quartet genre in 1873—at age 60. After Aida cooled his interest in stage works, he wrote his Quartet in E minor in a Naples hotel room, but as with the opera, the premiere’s reception was discouraging, and the quartet was not revived again for three years.

The Orion String Quartet’s performance Friday night at Alice Tully Hall, coming at the end of an immensely satisfying Italianate program presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, showed why the work has remained popular. The opening Allegro presages the vitality of his last two operas, Otello and Falstaff, showing as they do, the composer’s surprisingly youthful vigor. In the second movement, a winsome waltz, the players found elegance and suave assurance, tempered by tiny nudges of rubato, leaving a sly suggestion of inebriation in their wake.

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