RANDOLPH — The string quartet is considered the most intimate form of chamber music and is most often performed by performed by established ensembles that play together nearly all the time. So when the Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival closed its 28th season, Saturday at Chandler Music Hall, with a program of three string quartets, it presented a challenge — one 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 unrivaled masterpieces in the form. Although still very classical, Beethoven’s originality represents beginning of the break from the formality of Franz Joseph Haydn, his teacher and the father of the form.
Violinists Arturo Delmoni and Michael Roth, violist Katarzyna Bryla-Weiss and cellist Peter Sanders, the festival’s founder and artistic director, are all expert instrumentalists, yet none them are members of a string quartet. Still, they are all members of the New York City Ballet Orchestra — and they are friends.
In the Beethoven, they delivered both the classical elegance and the drama of the work. Delmoni tempered his usual bravura playing to become an equal part of the ensemble as all four responded sensitively and effectively with each other. Although Delmoni and Bryla-Weiss are more extravagant in their playing, and Roth and Sanders more reserved, their ensemble was seamless. This was beautiful and potent Beethoven.
The unexpected success of the concert was Ralph Vaughan Williams’ 1940-41 Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes. Transcribed from the original organ score for strings by Arnold Foster, the three varied rhythmically 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, once the concertmaster of the Vermont Mozart Festival orchestra, took over the first violin chair for the opening Haydn String Quartet in G minor, Op. 74, “The Rider.” Though more reserved than Delmoni, Roth proved no less sensitive in a performance where the all-important detail work was clear and precise, and the result a beautiful mix of elegance and drama — with just a touch of Haydn’s trademark quirkiness.
Saturday’s closing concert of the Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival proved one of if its best. Let’s hope for more of the same in 2022.
@timesargus.com / jim.lowe