The big-gun romantic names, like Schumann and his ilk, were not on the program, but that did not keep the Juilliard's concert at the Library of Congress from being a sensual romantic bash last night.
Haydn, whose name usually conjures up visions of wit and elegance, had his romantic moments also, and one of these occurred in his Opus No. 4 Quartet, whose second movement is one of the great songs of the literature. The Juilliard was in one of its mellow moods and poured heart and soul into a lovely performance of the piece.
Berg's Quartet, Opus 3, exudes an intensity and an urgency that sweeps the listener into its wake. Its fleeting thoughts require extremes of tension and relaxation in phrasing. The Juilliard sounded as if they were working hard and looked exhausted at the end, but they left an impression of great passion and seriousness.
As a finale, Smetana's intensely personal quartet subtitled "From My Life" carried the romantic motiff to a warm climax.
It is hard to be precise at full voice, and the Juilliard certainly had many moments of imprecision here, but just as certainly, they conveyed the spirit of the piece and of the evening in grand style.