Critic's Choice/ music | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Critic's Choice/ music 


Since winning a spate of prestigious European prizes in 1990, the Budapest-based Keller Quartet has been riding a well-warranted buzz. Its recordings of string quartets by Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and Ravel (all on Erato) reveal a mature ensemble sharp and taut in its playing and resolutely unsentimental and intellectual in its interpretation--unusual qualities for a group that's been performing together only a decade. The quartet is especially good with the folk-imbued modernism of Bartok (a recording of whose quartets is the Keller's ongoing project) and the austere, amorphous utterances of the postwar European vanguard. One living composer whose cause the Keller has made a point of championing is the 70-year-old Gyorgy Kurtag, a mentor to the Keller members at Hungary's Franz Liszt Academy. A less-appreciated contemporary of fellow countryman Gyorgy Ligeti, Kurtag throughout his career has tried to reconcile Bartokian impulses with the brevity and serialism of Anton Webern. Taught by Messiaen and later influenced by Stockhausen, he's preoccupied with elaborating on a few musical ideas and gestures in a short span of time, investing them with tension and vitality. His 1978 String Quartet no. 2, which the Keller will premiere here in its American debut, consists of 12 miniatures (called "microludes" by the composer, in reference to Bartok's Mikrokosmos) and lasts about 11 minutes. It traverses a spectrum of expressions from languid stillness to dramatic agitation. In the Keller's hands these largely self-referential aphorisms are strikingly incandescent. Also on the program are the Ravel's Quartet in F, Mozart's Quartet no. 15 in D Minor, and Bartok's Quartet no. 3. Friday, 8 PM, Ascension Church, East and Van Buren, Oak Park; 708-383-6456.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Keller Quartet.

Get our free weekly Early Warnings newsletter 💌

It’s Chicago’s essential months-ahead music calendar straight to your inbox.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Popular Stories