” …yet the Harlem players produce such a seductively velvet sound and phrase so intuitively and exultantly that any potential difficulties seem to melt away.”
They are already an accomplished ensemble, and their performances here easily outclass those of the Portland group both technically and interpretively.
Despite the weight of a weekend of remembrance, the young artists of the Harlem Quartet, the composers whose music was performed, and the students who heard it, bearing the hopes and dreams of a new generation, all embodied a spirit of optimism. This was an inspired performance.
Note well the names, because you should be hearing (and hearing of) these players into a bright future. Although they are all young, their artistry as the Harlem Quartet rivals that of the numerous veteran chamber groups that area listeners have been privileged to hear over the years.
The Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky and its patrons certainly got their money’s worth from the Harlem Quartet, which showed its versatility and range with classical, contemporary and jazz pieces.
“…they would emerge as one single, unanimous voice, a spirited harmoniousness further crediting Gestalt theory in which the whole exceeds the sum of its parts.
“The audience loved this grand finale [Randall Fleischer’s string quartet arrangement of West Side Story] in which ‘Maria’ provided a motif throughout the work. ‘Tonight’ was truly beautiful, and I felt like I was hearing the best of the Boston Pops… Of course ‘Play it Cool Boy’ held the audience on edge with the rhythmical finger snapping, heightened by the rhythms of the orchestra.”
“Friday night [at the Montreal Jazz Festival, acoustic/electric bassist Stanley] Clarke teamed up with the Harlem Quartet, a cutting-edge modern classical group that not only proved itself capable of nailing Clarke’s complex charts but also demonstrated great capacity for content-rich improvisation. This wasn’t the kind of string section that pads and sweetens; [The Harlem Quartet] collaborated with Clarke as an artistic entity that displayed top-notch chops, sensitive ears and surprising guts.”
They took my breath away in the same way that the bullfighter or bull would at the moment of truth.
“[Corea, Burton, and the Harlem Quartet] dove headlong into ‘Round Midnight,’ the strings adding considerable tonal depth and a sweeping, cinematic atmosphere to Thelonious Monk’s classic.”