RANDOLPH – The string quartet is considered the most intimate form of chamber music and is most often performed by established ensembles who play together almost all the time. So when the Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival closed its 28th season on Saturday at Chandler Music Hall with a program of three string quartets, it presented a challenge – one that the four excellent musicians met with confidence and a sense of joy.
The major work was Beethoven’s String Quartet in F major, Op. 18, No. 1, the first of the composer’s 16 unsurpassed masterpieces in form. Although still very classic, Beethoven’s originality represents the beginning of the break with the formality of Franz Joseph Haydn, his teacher and father of form.
Violinists Arturo Delmoni and Michael Roth, violist Katarzyna Bryla-Weiss and cellist Peter Sanders, founder and artistic director of the festival, are all expert instrumentalists, but none of them are members of a string quartet. . Still, they’re all members of the New York City Ballet Orchestra – and they’re friends.
In Beethoven, they delivered both classical elegance and drama to the work. Delmoni tempered his usual bravery game to become an equal part of the whole, as the four responded sensitively and effectively with each other. Although Delmoni and Bryla-Weiss were more extravagant in their acting and Roth and Sanders were more reserved, their ensemble was cohesive. It was beautiful and powerful Beethoven.
The unexpected success of the concert was Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes (1940-41) by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Transcribed from the original Arnold Foster string organ score, the three rhythms varied, but all were wonderfully lush and delivered beautifully by these players. It was a real pleasure to hear the warm English sound of Vaughan Williams “in miniature”.
Roth, formerly Principal Violin Principal of the Vermont Mozart Festival Orchestra, took over the Principal Violin Chair for the Overture of the Haydn String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 74, “The Cavalier”. Although more reserved than Delmoni, Roth proved to be no less sensitive in a performance where the essential detail work was crisp and clear, and the result was a beautiful blend of elegance and drama – with just a touch of quirk characteristic of Haydn.
The Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival’s closing concert on Saturday turned out to be one of the best. Hopefully it will be the same in 2022.