Harrington String Quartet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Harrington String Quartet 

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Like many touring chamber groups, the Harrington String Quartet is affiliated with an orchestra, but it's the prizes won by its youthful members, including the Fischoff Competition, that have helped it book engagements. Named after a New York patron of the arts and based in Amarillo, Texas, the Harrington consists of violinists Dawn Harms and John Meisner, violist (and New Trier High graduate) Amy Brandfonbrener, and Chilean-born cellist Emmanuel Lopez, all principals in the Amarillo Symphony. Their playing is noted for its polish, balance, and understated passion. Also noteworthy is their championing of the music of Martin Bresnick, a Yale professor who's little known outside academia. Bresnick, who studied with Gyorgy Ligeti, heads Yale's contemporary-music ensemble and is trying to carry a 60s infatuation with extended instrumental techniques and synthesized sounds into the 90s. His latest string quartet tackles the weighty (and all-too-common) subject of an inner journey and is inspired (as academic works usually are) by a towering literary work, here the second canto of Dante's Inferno. It's a well-crafted stretch of pensive, surprisingly tonal broodiness punctuated by bouts of agitated gestures. Also on the program are two masterworks: Mozart's Quartet in F Major and Ravel's String Quartet in F Major. Tuesday, 7:30 PM, Lutkin Hall, Northwestern University, 700 University, Evanston; 708-467-4000.

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