Calder Quartet at Northwestern University, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall | Concert preview
The Winter Chamber Music Festival welcomes the L.A. foursome.
The Calder Quartet has stacked up some serious rock cred in recent appearances with the National, Andrew W.K. and the Airborne Toxic Event, but this enterprising foursome is better known in classical circles for its deft handling of scores by Terry Riley, Christopher Rouse and Thomas Adès. At Northwestern University’s 17th annual Winter Chamber Music Festival, the Los Angeles–based group tries its collective hand at a clarinet quintet penned by Aaron Jay Kernis titled “Perpetual Chaconne,” which Calder co-commissioned with the Orion String Quartet last year.
The piece is a logical fit considering that Northwestern awarded the übercelebrity composer the $100,000 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition last year. Calder premiered “Chaconne” in August at the La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest with CSO assistant principal clarinetist John Bruce Yeh, who joins them again here. “Whenever you have a string quartet that’s been playing together for a long time and you add a fifth person, everyone typically has to adjust and compromise,” says Calder violist Jonathan Moerschel. Yet the addition of Yeh was a seamless one, he says, and the quartet is enthusiastic to reprise the experience: “John is an incredibly versatile musician and very easy to work with.”
Filling out the program are Ravel’s sumptuous String Quartet in F major and …toward sunshine and the prime of light… by Calder friend Andrew Norman, a fellow University of Southern California alumnus. Andrew W.K. won’t be party-rockin’ with the Calder gents this go-around, but it’s unlikely even he could summon the adrenaline rush of concert-closer String Quartet No. 5 by Béla Bartók.