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Vermeer Quartet

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The Vermeer Quartet, the only Chicago-area string quartet with an international reputation, has found a new venue at the Chicago Historical Society, and its inaugural recital series there plays up the group's versatility and experience. Of the trio of works slated for the opening concert two are definitely of high quality, though they're seldom performed. One is Haydn's Quartet in B-flat Major, the first in the set of six ingeniously crafted quartets, nicknamed the Prussian quartets--they were commissioned by Frederick William II, the King of Prussia, an amateur cellist. Full of energy and fresh melodies--and with a fascinating opening movement that is built from almost nothing at all--this quartet, when intelligently played, should dispel any doubt that Haydn was way ahead of his contemporaries as an innovator in the genre. The other piece deserving attention is Benjamin Britten's Third String Quartet (1975), the last of his major compositions. It has an autobiographical and valedictory tone: the finale presents an image of a serene, lulling sea--like the one the writer Aschenbach contemplates at the edge of death in Britten's last opera, Death in Venice. Also on the program is the Quartet in C Minor by the second-rate German composer Max Bruch. Sunday, 2 PM, Rubloff Auditorium, Chicago Historical Society, Clark at North; 242-6237.

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