The Dallas String Quartet made an impressive debut at the Phillips Collection Sunday night. Knowing that members of the quartet include the concertmaster, associate principal violist and principal cellist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra helps explain why they sounded so good. But it doesn't explain how in only two years Emanuel Borok, Arkady Fomin, Barbara Hustis and Christopher Adkins have hit upon a collective magic that eludes quartets many years older.
There's no question this one has it. From the exquisitely delineated opening of Schubert's posthumous E-flat Quartet to the exuberant close of Dvorak's Quartet in A-flat, Op. 105, No. 7, and the brilliant colorations of Louis Gruenburg's "Four Diversions," Op. 32, each artist's notes and phrases were seasoned and shaped with rare sensitivity toward the other players. It was a policy that paid off handsomely with performances rich in detail and sparkling in clarity.
It was hard to find fault anywhere. While the Scherzo of the Schubert was appropriately lively, it wasn't prestissimo, and the Adagio might have sounded a little less labored had the ensemble picked up the pace. But these are trivialities compared with the obvious relish with which the music was played -- and received.