The Strad



Review of the 92nd st Y concert in the SubCulture

A Haydn quartet can feel like an appetizer - nice but perhaps insignificant.  The Ariel Quartet, on the other hand, presented op.76 no.1 with vitality, clarity of line, depth of sound and an impeccable sense of direction. The Menuetto: Presto sparkled with imagination (especially from first violinist Alexandra Kazovsky) and although occasionally the ensemble felt top-heavy, the piece was a joy.

Cellist Amit Even-Tov, while perhaps too reticent in the Haydn, shone in Berg's op.3 String Quartet, as did Violist Jan Grüning, whose mature sound was especially compelling. The Ariel Quartet's understanding and presentation of this complex and nuanced piece were outstanding, and the extended techniques were exceedingly well played, particularly the ponticello passages.

Beethoven's monumental op.130 and the Grosse Fuge followed the interval, and the Ariel's performance showed that when the minutiae of quartet playing are thoughtfully considered and perfectly executed, the sum of a quartet is indeed greater than its parts. Although occasionally the supporting texture was too thick or complicated for Gershon Gerchikov (playing first violin for the Beethoven), overall the players' sound as the quartet was phenomenal. The Cavatina was raw and profoundly moving, the Grosse Fuge, by contrast, brilliant in its ferocity. The quartet performed the Scherzo of Beethoven's op.18 no.2 from memory as an encore, to a well-deserved standing ovation.