Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Thursday at the Library of Congress Franz Krommer enjoyed briefly what history has denied him - equal billing with Haydn and Beethoven. The Juilliard String Quartet inserted Krommer's "Duo in A Major for Two Violins, Op. 54" between a Haydn and Beethoven quartet.
If the "Duo is representative, history has not been unfair to Krommer, an Austrian violinist and composer born in 1759. Outliving Beethoven and Schubert, he wrote some 150 compositions and spent the latter part of his life in Vienna as chamber composer to Francis II. The "Duo" had some engaging sections but too often melodies seemed to turn in upon themselves and harmonic passages went nowhere. There were a few abrupt, stepwise modulations which may have given Schubert, who probably played Krommer's music with his school orchestra, some food for thought.
Both Krommer's "Duo" and Haydn's "Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 71. No. 1." occasionally suffered from the Juilliard Quartet's intense, energetic approach. Some contrasting moments in a more relaxed, gracious vein would have been welcome.
Beethoven's "Quartet in C Major, Op. 59. No. 3" was another matter. It is a work that demands every bit of energy a quartet has and the Julliard gave in full measure. The performance was a dazzling display of power and control.