CHICAGO STRING QUARTET
One test of a chamber ensemble's strength is how quickly the new lineup jells after a change in personnel. Founded in 1995, the Chicago String Quartet has undergone two such transformations--and first violinist Joseph Genualdi, like former Juilliard leader Robert Mann, has used these infusions of new blood to fine-tune his group. Three years ago, after Christopher Costanza replaced the CSQ's founding cellist, the ensemble was invigorated, expanding its repertoire to include more modern works while maintaining the high standards that had already earned it a place alongside the Vermeer as one of the finest string quartets in Chicago. And after Stefan Hersh, the CSQ's original second violinist, was asked to leave last spring, his replacement, Jasmine Lin, quickly proved she could preserve the group's characteristic warm tone and vibrant emotionalism. A former second assistant concertmaster of the Cincinnati Symphony, the young violinist made her debut with the CSQ in November, at the group's first subscription recital of the season, and her playing was as confident and intense as that of her colleagues. At this performance, part of Northwestern University's six-concert Winter Chamber Music Festival, the CSQ will play Mozart's String Quartet no. 18, Toru Takemitsu's 1986 Entre-temps, and Brahms's String Quintet in G. In a measure of the respect other first-tier musicians feel for Genualdi and company, the group will be joined by violin virtuoso Gil Shaham for the Brahms and by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's oboe principal, Alex Klein, for the Takemitsu. The Brahms and the Mozart, both mainstays of the chamber canon, will provide familiar yardsticks to measure the CSQ against other quartets; the Takemitsu, eerie and forlorn and shaded with dissonance, should demonstrate the group's venturesome spirit. Sunday, January 14, 7:30 PM, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 1977 South Campus Dr., Evanston; 847-467-4000. A preconcert talk by Genualdi and Costanza begins at 6:15 PM.