Dover Quartet's Beethoven Cycle makes a triumphant continuation

The Dover Quartets stuns the audience at Jorgensen on Thursday, March 2, with the final piece of the Beethoven  string quartet. The Dover Quartet is a highly acclaimed string quartet group, having won numerous international awards. (Akshara Thejaswi/The Daily Campus)

Mournful tunes, triumphant crescendos and sweet string music filled the air at the University of Connecticut’s Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, as the critically-lauded Dover Quartet performed Part IV of the Beethoven Quartet Cycle Thursday night.

Violinists Joel Link and Bryan Lee, along with Camden Shaw on the cello and Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt on the viola played their way through three different works by Ludwig van Beethoven, as part of the ongoing Beethoven Quartet Cycle hosted by Jorgensen. The Dover Quartet has been performing the series at Jorgensen since November.

Originally founded in 2008 at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, the Dover Quartet rose to fame in 2013 at the Banff International String Quartet Competition. The group is currently the faculty quartet in residence at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music in Seattle, and has toured across the globe, playing at Carnegie Hall, Yale and several other concert halls and music festivals.

Thursday’s performance is the first time the Dover Quartet has performed the fourth part of Beethoven’s Quartet Cycle together in public, de Stadt said at the beginning of the performance.

Each piece within the performance contained four different parts, masterfully blended together and looped at several points, making the music flow uninterrupted with each movement. The first piece, “Quartet in F Major,” contained the jaunty and upbeat, yet intense movement ‘Allegro’ a name that fits its brisk tempo. ‘Andante con moto’ changed the pace with a slower, more rhythmic tempo, with bursts of intense playing that kept the audience on their toes.

‘Allegro’ and ‘Presto’ then picked up the pace again, their choppy and cheerful sounds reflecting in the musicians’ performance and movement, as they swayed to the music.  

“Quartet in F Minor,” the second piece, was slower, yet ever changing, with both moments of calm and intense, almost angry strokes within the first movement ‘Allegro con brio.’ By contrast, ‘Allegro ma non troppo’ was sweeter and lighter, quickly evolving into a faster pace that almost seemed anxious as the pitch and speed increased.

‘Allegro assai vivace ma serioso’ and ‘Larghetto’ both took on mournful tones, with an almost marching, grieving tempo and intense musical dissonance, which was met with thundering applause at the end of the piece and great approval from the audience.

“They’re doing a wonderful job,” said Marie Czarnecki, a second year graduate student in physical therapy visiting UConn from the American International College in Massachusetts. “Their music is absolutely incredible.”

After a brief intermission the concert resumed, with the Quartet concluding the night on the piece “Quartet in F Major.” The movements ‘Allegro’ and ‘Allegretto vivace e sempre scherzando’ were both deep and graceful, with intervals of cheerful and lulling moments interspersed with quick and intense outbursts. ‘Adagio molto e messo’ then slowed the pace with a more swaying, lullaby-like tempo and a mournful feel, before merging with ‘Allegro: Theme Russe’ to end the night on a frantic, yet triumphant final cadence, a conclusion which was met with a standing ovation and several curtain-calls.

“This was world-class playing,” said Blair Johnson, a professor of psychology at UConn. “There were four musicians, but it sounded like one. It’s old music, but it sounded like it was made for today.”


Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.