To those of us who are devotees of both Brahms and the Redskins, the women of the Colorado String Quartet are splendid human beings. In deference to the important events of the day and the hour (yesterday's Phillips Collection concert started at 5 p.m.), they offered to play the scheduled quartets of Beethoven and Brahms twice as fast as normal, the better to get everyone in the audience home in time for the kickoff.
Upon further reflection, however, they decided instead to cancel the intermission, the result being the best of all possible worlds: superb performances of Beethoven's Quartet Op. 18, No. 5, and the Brahms B-flat Quartet, Op. 67--followed by the Redskins.
The members of the ensemble, which was born as a graduate quartet-in-residence at the University of Colorado, were admitted as a quartet to Juilliard, and now serve as teaching assistants to the members of the Juilliard Quartet. Their performing styles have much of the same exuberance and devotion to the music that characterizes the Juilliards. Nowhere was this more evident than in the third movement of the Beethoven, where the beautifully balanced and colored sonorities of one variation were followed by the muscular, angular posturing of the next, both refreshingly spontaneous and convincing.
The Brahms is an uncommonly joyous work, full of the subtly shifting internal rhythms that Brahms loved so well. These were handled with the sort of smooth aplomb that comes only with complete control and a sure sense of both the details and the larger structures.
This is one of the finest young ensembles heard around here lately, and their courtesy to the football fans in the audience was just icing on the cake.