The notion of playing early music (baroque and before) and classical-era compositions on authentic instruments has held the fascination of many since the 1950s. But for the concept to be more than mere crutch, period instruments must be treated with the same imagination and spirit as their new counterparts. Since forming in 1985 the Budapest-based Festetics Quartet have leavened a scholarly attitude with a rare vibrance; indeed Festetics make their gut-stringed old wooden boxes sing. Specializing in the music of Franz Joseph Haydn–who spent a good part of his life in their homeland, and whom they therefore claim as part of the Hungarian musical heritage–Festetics have deeply considered the ramifications of playing “authentically.” As with premodern performance practices, the ensemble sets up with the first violin (Istvan Kertesz) and second violin (Erika Petoefi) on the outer extremes, the viola (Peter Ligeti) on the inner left, and the cello (Rezsoe Pertorini) on the inner right. Judging by the group’s wonderful recordings of the complete Haydn quartets for the French Arcana label, this lends a significantly different sense of symmetry and balance from that of the contemporary string quartet, in which the higher strings are grouped and counterposed against the lower. In this rare visit to America, the quartet will be joined by pianist Maria Rose, who will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 12, with the strings playing the “a quattro” version. On the same program Festetics will feature quartets by Schubert and, of course, Haydn. Sunday, 3 PM, auditorium, APS Conference Center, Building 402, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 S. Cass, Argonne; 708-252-7160. JOHN CORBETT
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.