Since its debut in 1971, the Alban Berg Quartett has been a compelling exponent of the works of both the classical and 12-note Vienna schools; its recording of the complete quartets of Beethoven, Berg, and Anton Webern rival those of the Julliard and the LaSalle. The foursome’s playing is intense, but clear and exquisite enough to bring forth the lyrical undercurrents to modernism’s frequent tumultuousness. Two of the works the Berg Quartet has picked for this concert make it sort of a belated Valentine’s Day special. Berg’s Lyric Suite consists of a terse six movements, built on increasingly diverging tempi, filled with sly references to other works, and encompassing the spectrum of emotions–though its previaling tone is tragic, reflecting Berg’s impossible love for the wife of an industrialist. Leos Janacek’s Quartet no. 2, composed in 1928 (one year after Berg’s Suite and subtitled Intimate Letters was meant as an old man’s valentine to his young mistress. Cleverly anchored in a more classical idiom and incorporating some colorful Bohemian tunes, it exides a sensuality rare for string quartets. The Berg’s third selection is the playful quartet The Birds by Papa Haydn, who was a confirmed bachelor. Monday, 8 PM, Civic Theatre, 20 N. Wacker; 242-6237 or 663-1628.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Sheila Rock.