Another Stunningly Beautiful NPR Tiny Desk Concert: The Calidore String Quartet [VIDEO]

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April 22, 2019 | Tom Huizenga — If just one thing can be confirmed from these compelling Tiny Desk performances by the Calidore String Quartet, it should be that the centuries-old formula – two violins, a viola and a cello – is still very much alive and evolving. Indeed, an impromptu show of hands in the audience before the concert began revealed that almost everyone had seen a string quartet perform live.

The genre was born some 250 years ago and pioneered by Joseph Haydn, but composers today are still tinkering with its possibilities. Consider Caroline Shaw. The young, Pulitzer-winning composer wrote the opening work in this set, First Essay: Nimrod, especially for the Calidore String Quartet.

Over a span of eight minutes, the supple theme that opens this extraordinary work takes a circuitous adventure. It unfolds into a song for the cello, is sliced into melodic shards, gets bathed in soft light, becomes gritty and aggressive and disguises itself in accents of the old master composers. Midway through, the piece erupts in spasms that slowly dissolve back into the theme.

The Calidore players also chose music by the quirky Czech composer, Leoš Janáček who, in 1913, set one of his operas on the moon. He wrote only two string quartets but they are dazzling. The opening Adagio, from his first quartet, is typical Janáček, with hairpin turns that veer from passionate romance to prickly anxiety.

Reaching back farther, the ensemble closes the set with an early quartet by Beethoven, who took what Haydn threw down and ran with it. The final movement from Beethoven’s Fourth Quartet both looks back at Haydn’s elegance and implies the rambunctious, even violent, risks his music would soon take.

The performance turns out to be a fascinating through-line, traced from Beethoven’s early incarnation of the string quartet, straight through to Caroline Shaw’s new sounds, which occasionally glance backward.

SET LIST
Caroline Shaw: “First Essay: Nimrod”
Janáček: “String Quartet No. 1, ‘Adagio’”
Beethoven: “String Quartet Op. 18, No. 4, Allegro - Prestissimo”

MUSICIANS
Jeffrey Myers, violin; Ryan Meehan, violin; Jeremy Berry, viola; Estelle Choi, cello

CREDITS
Producers: Tom Huizenga, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, CJ Riculan; Production Assistant: Adelaide Sandstrom; Photo: Amr Alfiky/NPR

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20 comments

1
gocart mozart  May 1, 2019 • 6:01:21pm
2
William Lewis  May 1, 2019 • 6:05:35pm

This was my favorite little desk in quite a while.

3
EPR-radar  May 1, 2019 • 6:06:32pm

re: #1 gocart mozart

Hey look, gender-essentialist drivel from the NRO in response to an act of stochastic terrorism by an overly-enthusiastic Republican.

David French should take this crap, polish it up, turn it sideways and cram it up his proto-fascist ass.

4
Backwoods_Sleuth  May 1, 2019 • 6:08:27pm
5
The Vicious Babushka  May 1, 2019 • 6:08:52pm

Not soon enough

6
FormerDirtDart 🍕🐀  May 1, 2019 • 6:09:38pm
7
Jay C  May 1, 2019 • 6:13:14pm

re: #6 FormerDirtDart 🍕🐀

[Embedded content]

Will they make the ship fly the traditional yellow flags (for “Plague”)?
Probably don’t have any in the flag locker: ship quarantines probably aren’t that common nowadays.

8
Patricia Kayden  May 1, 2019 • 6:15:04pm
9
gocart mozart  May 1, 2019 • 6:15:28pm
10
Backwoods_Sleuth  May 1, 2019 • 6:16:47pm

re: #9 gocart mozart

[Embedded content]

11
Backwoods_Sleuth  May 1, 2019 • 6:18:40pm
12
gocart mozart  May 1, 2019 • 6:19:51pm
13
Backwoods_Sleuth  May 1, 2019 • 6:22:24pm
14
Decatur Deb  May 1, 2019 • 6:22:33pm

re: #7 Jay C

Will they make the ship fly the traditional yellow flags (for “Plague”)?
Probably don’t have any in the flag locker: ship quarantines probably aren’t that common nowadays.

It’s in port, so probably the “L- Lima” black and yellow alphabet flag, if they’re old school.

15
Patricia Kayden  May 1, 2019 • 6:25:54pm
16
EPR-radar  May 1, 2019 • 6:27:48pm

re: #13 Backwoods_Sleuth

Fine. That just gives us a short and sweet first article of impeachment:

1) Obstruction of justice in the matter of the release of the Mueller report, including the Barr cover-up and spin job.

17
EPR-radar  May 1, 2019 • 6:28:52pm

re: #15 Patricia Kayden

An oath doesn’t really count if you’re thinking “Hail Satan, Lord and Master” as Republicans oath-takers must be doing these days.

18
Backwoods_Sleuth  May 1, 2019 • 6:29:46pm
19
teleskiguy  May 1, 2019 • 6:48:04pm

20
A hollow voice says, Inpeach...  May 1, 2019 • 7:35:55pm

re: #17 EPR-radar

An oath doesn’t really count if you’re thinking “Hail Satan, Lord and Master” as Republicans oath-takers must be doing these days.

The church of Satan has disavowed all these RWNJs. They say Christians should not shirk their obvious responsibility.


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