The Emerson String Quartet ended its season at the Renwick Gallery last night with an allBeethoven concert. Joined by singer David Gordon, clarinetist Loren Kitt and pianist Lambert Orkis, the emsemble drew from both the familiar and the lesserknown chamber repertoire to create an appealing program that leaned toward the composer's more extroverted side.
Orkis, Kitt and the quartet's cellist, David Finckel, had a splendid time with the youthful Clarinet Trio, Op. 11. A product of the early Vienna years before heroism invaded Beethoven's writing, the work reveals the exuberant good spirits of a young genius beginning to feel his full power. The three artists caught the music's vigor in a finely articulated interpretation that reflected its sinewy humor. The gentle beauty of the interweaving lines that open the second movement and the puckish undertone of the final variations were particularly well realized.
Though Beethoven's settings of various British folk songs often reflect economic rather than divine inspiration, they can be immensely enjoyable, as tenor Gordon demonstrated in an engaging performance. In a nicely balanced set of six, Gordon used his rich voice and genial manner to delightful effect, keeping the tone appropriately lighthearted.
The evening ended with the last of the "Rasoumowsky" Quartets, Op. 59, No. 3. The first three movements unfolded satisfactorily enough, but the final movement whipped along with a dazzling lightness, all the more remarkable for its moments of lyrical grace. The program will be repeated tonight and tomorrow night at 7.