The Chilingirian String Quartet, playing last night in the Kreeger Auditorium of the Jewish Community Center, placed Erich Korngold's third quartet in between the F major Quartet of Haydn's Opus 74 and the Brahms B Flat. Korngold could not stand the competition.
For all of its craft, exhibited in some determinedly crabbed writing, it was obvious that the heart of Korngold lay in the too-brief episodes that kept insinuating notes of sentiment into the proceedings. I could not help thinking about Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn, and now and then, Basil Rathbone when the quartet put on their mutes and played through a rather charming movement marked, "Like a folk tune."
Korngold wrote a powerful symphony, several operas well worth hearing, and quantities of chamber music. But the odds are still strong that he will be remembered for the opera, "Die tote Stadt," his Hollywood film scores, and, by some, the symphony.
The Chilingirian foursome, whose home is London, played handsomely throughout the evening. Their Haydn was a plasure for the manner in which they relaxed when relaxation was appropriate, and for the particular attention to the interior interplay of voices, as well as their delight in Haydn's brilliant humor.
It was easy to recall that these musicians once coached with members of the Amadeus Quartet, both when they played Haydn, and when they offered Brahms that was warmed to just the right temperature, but always filled with vitality. t