TESLA QUARTET, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah, Feb. 7
The Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City likes to include young up and coming groups in its roster, and with the Tesla Quartet, they’ve found a winner.
The Tesla was formed in 2008 by four students at Juilliard. And in the short time of its existence it’s garnered a number of impressive awards and accolades, including first prize at the 2012 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.
The group has a local connection. Violist Megan Mason is originally from Holladay. She and her colleagues Ross Snyder and Michelle Lie, violins, and Kimberly Patterson, cello, came to Salt Lake City Thursday and gave an impressive performance in Libby Gardner Concert Hall that showcased their considerable talent.
Looking to be in their mid 20s, the four played with a maturity and self confidence that went well beyond their years. It was as if they had been playing together for much longer than they actually have. What was really impressive was their refined interpretative skill. They can delve into a score and bring out the essence of the music with their nuanced playing. Their technical acumen is equally strong, as is their musicality. In short, they are anyone’s dream team quartet.
They opened the concert with a magnificent account of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Quartet in C major, K. 465, Dissonance. They played it with beautifully crafted phrasings and well articulated expressions. It flowed with a seamless quality that underscored the lyricism of each movement. The andante, especially, was textured and nuanced and displayed some wonderful interplay among the instruments.
Rounding out the first half was Carter Pann’s Quartet No. 1, Love Letters. The four-movement work is about a decade old, but it could just as well have been written a century ago. Pann’s harmonic language is lush and very melodic. The piece is pleasant to listen to but rather monotonous. However, the Tesla gave an enthusiastic account that focused on its lyrical qualities.
After intermission, the group offered the audience a rarity, Ottorino Respighi’s Quartet No. 1 in D major. Respighi is best known today for his orchestral music, so it was a treat to hear one of his quartets.
Respighi’s work is as lush and romantic as Pann’s. Having two such similar sounding pieces next to each other was a problem, though. The program would have benefited with a bit more contrast. However, Respighi’s quartet stands head above shoulders over Pann’s.
The foursome gave a gorgeously crafted reading that reveled in the flowing harmonies and soaring melodies Respighi wrote. They played with feeling, subtle expressiveness and seamless lines. It was a wonderfully textured and fluid account that did justice to the work.