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Jasper String Quartet is cohesive and beautifully balanced at Maverick Concerts / The Boston Musical Intelligencer

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Named for Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, the Jasper String Quartet has been in existence for a decade. Maverick Concerts' Music Director Alexander Platt mentioned (or admitted?) during his introduction that he has known the ensemble's playing for most of that time. On Sunday, July 23rd, the Jasper Quartet made its belated debut at Maverick Concerts, in Woodstock. What took so long? I'm sure its return will be welcome.           

This concert was the third of three, on successive Sundays, pairing string quartets by Brahms and Aaron Jay Kernis. The ensemble opened with Haydn's Quartet in G Major, Op. 76, No. 1. Although Haydn isn't played as often these days as he ought to be, the Op. 76 Quartets aren't exactly rarities. But I could listen to them every week if they were played with the freshness the Jaspers brought to their playing. The members of this ensemble, unlike some we've heard, don't attempt to submerge their individual personalities in a kind of mind meld. Its ensemble is impeccable but you still hear four strong presences. I was immediately struck by the group's cohesive, beautifully balanced playing along with the degree of individual expression in the opening movement. The Adagio had mesmerizing lyricism. In the Menuetto, actually more of a Scherzo despite its name, the group's accents remained startling every time they came around, a welcome emphasis on Haydn's irregularities and his sense of humor. The playfully eccentric trio showed off the humor even more. And the zippy finale, complete with exposition repeat, displayed the mock tragedy of Haydn's humor as convincingly as I've ever heard it. Someday, perhaps, this ensemble will record Haydn's Op. 76. I'll buy it.            READ THE FULL Boston Musical Intelligencer REVIEW