Vermeer Quartet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Vermeer Quartet

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Though dependent on close and durable artistic camaraderie, a string quartet, after having been around for a long time, is bound to change its personnel once in a while. The infusion of new blood can be felicitous, waking the quartet to other ways of interpreting works in its repertoire. The Juilliard Quartet is a prime example. It's recorded the Beethoven cycle three times in the last four decades, each time after a roster change. The differences are discernible, yet the performances, for the most part, are equally persuasive. I hope the same holds true for our Vermeer Quartet, whose second violinist (and founding member) Pierre Menard has retired after 22 years with the group. His successor is Mathias Tacke, a respected and much-recorded German player who's fond of 20th-century music, particularly the continental variety. The first test will come this Sunday when the Vermeer opens its season as Performing Arts Chicago's flagship ensemble. It will be interesting to see how the new foursome handle one of Beethoven's quartets--always a Vermeer specialty--in this case, Quartet no. 10, aka Harp. Also on the "golden oldie" part of the program is Mendelssohn's Quartet no. 4 in E Minor, a novelty for the Vermeer. If Tacke does add sparkle, the result could be a first-rate performance of Gyorgy Ligeti's String Quartet no. 1 (Metamorphoses Nocturnes). Written shortly before the composer fled his native Hungary in the midst of the 1956 uprising, this single-movement work is Bartokian in texture, but its prevailing mood is definitely dark and anxiety-ridden. Sunday, 3 PM, concert hall, DePaul University, 800 W. Belden; 242-6237 or 663-1628.

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