Franz Schubert’s C Major Quartet (D. 46) finds the classical style running into the 16-year-old Schubert’s growing musical independence. The players — violinists Jordan Victoria and Alexandre Vu, violist Tanguy Parisot and cellist Samy Rachid — established their sound from the outset: wiry, tightly coiled, reveling in the friction of bow against string, often forgoing vibrato for a lean nasality sounding both early-music-archaic and unsentimentally modern. Schubert’s fast, loud music, as in the opening Allegro’s shower of triplets, was very loud and very fast, while soft passages were daringly delicate, barely audible conspiratorial whispers. The contrast subverted the finale’s stylized rusticity, the dance turning strident and sardonic by turn: Schubert as teenage punk.
The rest of the concert honored Arnold Schoenberg in the breach, via that iconoclast’s student and mentor. Anton von Webern’s “Langsamer Satz,” a 1905 exercise, unspooled paragraphs of late-Romantic emotion, the sort of mood the older Webern would concentrate into a few sparse, pregnant bars. The reading was detailed, moment-to-moment, surfing heightened emotions like waves.
In Alexander Zemlinsky’s Op. 15 Second Quartet, on the other hand, Schoenberg’s onetime teacher came to terms with the sonic revolution unleashed by the younger generation: a taut, teeming thicket of colliding motives and high-strung sensation. The interpretation was, again, close up, bypassing an overhead view for a plunge into the thick of the music’s expressive mass, but it effectively highlighted the group’s penchant, not exactly for extremes, but for finding and amplifying any passage’s most intense aspect: heat, longing, violence, stillness — even (in an encore, a transcription of Zemlinsky’s early, Op. 1 No. 3 “Traümerisch”) prettiness. The Arod Quartet marries grown-up technique to the thrall and sting of youth, when every passing moment can feel overwhelmingly momentous.