MUSIC / Lyric String Quartet - Institut Francais, SW7

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The Independent Culture
It was a bold move of the recently formed Lyric String Quartet to choose idiosyncratic works for Friday's opening concert of the autumn chamber music series at the Institut Francais. But it was a move that paid off, for the challenge of Beethoven's taut, dynamic F minor Quartet Op 95, and the cool, withdrawn Voces Intimae quartet of Sibelius showed the nature of these young performers' progress since the quartet formed in 1990.

Individual playing was steady and purposeful in the Beethoven, pure and disembodied in the opening violin and cello solos of the Sibelius. Details of ensemble were equally impressive, these intimate voices blended in polyphony or standing together in bleak octaves. Though the fast music in both works was more questionable, with less haste assuring securer intonation, the sense of pacing from movement to movement was competent and coherent.

For the new work, Maurice Delaistier's Quartet, the players clearly pulled long and hard to bring together its mosaic of testing, virtuoso textures. Each new and promising idea was followed by discursion suggesting material stretched beyond its limit. A shorter length might have meant a more telling message. Even so, as the Beethoven demonstrated, musical compression involves a habit of mind, not just fitting things into a smaller space.