Thursday, April 20, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Concert Review

Daedalus Quartet: dynamic, exuberant, insightful

Seattle Times music critic


International Chamber Series, Meany Theater, Tuesday night

There are so many fine new string quartets and chamber ensembles today that it can be hard to keep them straight — but there's no fear of the Daedalus Quartet getting lost in the shuffle. This outstanding young foursome, winners of the 2001 Banff International Quartet Competition, is already charting a secure course through the world's leading concert halls, from Carnegie to the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Salzburg Mozarteum to the Vienna Musikverein.

The Daedalus made a stop in Meany Theater Tuesday evening for an International Chamber Series program that spanned three very different musical styles, all expertly realized. Seattle pianist Byron Schenkman was the guest artist in one of the great, burnished chestnuts of the repertoire, the Dvorák Piano Quintet.

The four Daedalus members — sibling violinists Kyu-Young Kim and Min-Young Kim, violist Jessica Thompson and cellist Raman Ramakrishnan — made an immediate impression with their exuberant playing in the Mendelssohn D Major String Quartet (Op. 44, No. 1), which was full of verve and energy. Equally effective, however, were the perfectly controlled dynamics, including an elegant pianissimo that was achieved with no loss of intensity or focus. It was a beautifully detailed, finished performance.

The Bartok String Quartet No. 3 that followed was a study in contrasts, and here the Daedalus' precision ensemble playing was especially noteworthy: both incisive and unified. Kyu-Young Kim's commentary before the Bartok was well-judged and insightful.

The Dvorák brought in the partnership of pianist Schenkman, who has made his earlier career as a harpsichordist and brings to the modern instrument a clarity and articulation that illuminated the score. He made the piano sparkle in the speedy Scherzo. Balances were excellent with the Daedalus players' warm sound and smooth blend, as the five musicians wove their way through abundant tempo changes and knit together a solid, stylish performance. Encore, encore.

Melinda Bargreen:

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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