1. Above is the Cleveland String Quartet, warming up onstage at Alice Tully Hall in New York just before a concert.They're talking to public relations man Peter Gelb about getting a few extra tickets for friends, and Gelb is saying the hall is sold out but he'll see what he can do.

As usual, they were all a little nervous when they arrived. Peter Salaff, the second violin, showed up first, closely followed by violist Martha Strongin Katz and her husband, cellist Paul Katz. Martha carried an orange.

A few minutes later, first violinist Donald Weilerstein strode in, set his case on a piano backstage, wiped his astonishingly long, narrow hands on a paper towel and, pulling out the violin with deft abandon, played one luscious scale. He hardly paused to tune the strings; he had been practicing all afternoon.

"It's better to be nervous before than during," he mumurs, smiling abstractedly.

They work together about 20 minutes, jumping almost without comment from one piece to another. The program is part of their ongoing Beethoven cycle: Opus 18, No. 74, "The Harp," and Opus 131, an electrifying masterpiece of Beethoven's final years.

Don (stops in mid-note) : "Jeez."

Peter : "Yeah, I'm just trying to get it broader. Pick a spot . . ."

Don : "Seems very untuneful. Is it my fault? . . ."

Paul (to Peter) : "You're playing a little loud."

Peter : "Sure. Same Place?"

Half an hour before the concert they break up. Paul works with his cello in a dark corner backstage, facing the wall. Don practices in a waiting room, the score propped on the back of a sofa. Peter disappears. Martha slips into a dressing room and closes her eyes for 20 minutes of Transcendental Meditation. They have all taken up TM, also jogging. They find TM relaxes their hands for a concert