|Reviews of the New Hollywood String Quartet
|Los Angeles Times
August 16, 2002
|Versatile String Quartet in
an Intimate Setting
|The good news: A full house of 87 listeners
heard the New Hollywood String Quartet on Wednesday night
at the small theater called Inside the Ford at the John
Anson Ford Amphitheatre. The bad: The event had been moved
indoors, 24 hours before, due to modest ticket sales.
|Otherwise, this turned out to be a most
happy enterprise, since it offered solid and admirable evidence
of the ensemble's burgeoning skills and artistry over its
20-month existence, and, this time around, two new works
written especially for the quartet by composers from the
film community. The new pieces, both in world premieres,
were Don Davis' moody, engrossing "Wandering" and Randy
Kerber's melodramatic Fantasy on Themes from "North by Northwest."
|The New Hollywood--violinists Clayton
Haslop and Rafael Rishik, violist David Walther and cellist
Paul Cohen--remains a taut, aggressive, highly accomplished
musical body, with a wide dynamic range and abundant versatility.
That versatility was put to profitable use in this program,
which began with a put-together quartet by Mendelssohn and
closed with the Quartet in F by Ravel.
|The two movements of Mendelssohn's unfinished
Opus 81, with an earlier Capriccio, made a handsome, winsomely
played opener that displayed the players' deep sense of
ensemble and their command of structure and nuance. The
familiar Ravel piece proved a model combination of sweep
|Kerber wrote the scores for "The Matrix"
and "Jurassic Park III." But he used music by Bernard Hermann
for the Hitchcock film "North by Northwest" as the basis
for his pumped-up Fantasy, which seems to follow an unstated
scenario through its gripping, 13-minute length. Entirely
tonal, it holds the listener through musical gestures both
violent and tender.
|There is nothing tentative or haphazard
in Davis' "Wandering," but there are haunting qualities
of yearning and melancholy through its three continuous
movements. The composer, orchestrator for James Horner and
Randy Newman, calls this, his second string quartet, an
"essay in introspection." It is highly compelling.
CARIAGA, TIMES STAFF WRITER
|Los Angeles Times
June 25, 2002
Has Become a Stand-Up Quartet
|The Music Guild's spinoff series, Coffee,
Cakes & Chamber Music on a Sunday Afternoon, drew a
fairly substantial turnout at Brentwood's University Synagogue
over the weekend, perhaps lured by the marquee value of
the New Hollywood String Quartet.
|It's probable that many in the audience
remember the original Hollywood String Quartet, wondering
how these guys stack up against the legend.
|It turns out that the New Hollywood has
become a formidable team only about 1 1/2 years after its
debut concert. These studio players blend together as seamlessly
and often as sumptuously as do more seasoned quartets, with
painstaking care in the shaping of virtually every phrase.
Also, as of two or three months ago, violinists Clayton
Haslop and Rafael Rishik and violist David Walther have
started to play standing up (with cellist Paul Cohen remaining
seated), joining the Emerson Quartet in a striking departure
from business as usual.
|They look good doing so--especially Haslop,
whose tall, lean frame sways dramatically backward as he
plays--and one wonders whether the sound is affected, for
the group had a remarkably even balance with no one voice
|There is artistic growth too. The first
movement of the Schubert Quartet No. 13 ("Rosamunde")
was a bit faster, more sharply characterized, and it breathed
more deeply than on a recording made in September 2000.
|Sometimes, however, they apply too much
polish; the finale of the Schubert could have used more
of a rhythmic kick.
|The Beethoven Quartet No. 6 evolved from
a tightly classical first movement to absorbing dialogues
in the finale, and spurts of drive emerged through the refined
textures in Dvorak's Quartet No. 14.
|While it doesn't try to sound like the
original, the New Hollywood is certainly up to the task
of maintaining its predecessor's high technical and musical
|By RICHARD S. GINELL, Special
to The Times
|Los Angeles Times
January 11, 2001
|Studio Players' Quartet Rises Again,
and Meets Same High Standards
|A landmark in Southern California musical
history, the Hollywood String Quartet (1947-61) was an ensemble
of Hollywood studio players that came to represent that
breed's high instrumental achievement and lofty artistic
ideals. Violinist Felix Slatkin and cellist Eleanor Aller--the
parents of the American conductor Leonard Slatkin--were
founding members of the prestigious, well-remembered ensemble.
With some of the same ideals, and certainly the aim of reaching
the artistic level of that earlier group, four current studio
players--violinists Clayton Haslop and Rafael Rishik, violist
David Walther and cellist Paul Cohen--have formed the New
Hollywood String Quartet.
|After one out-of-town tryout, over the
weekend, the ensemble made its official debut Tuesday night
in Zipper Hall at the Colburn School of Performing Arts.
It was an auspicious and happy occasion, during which the
new ensemble lived up to its name. The four players produce
music both beautiful and immaculate, technically impeccable
and artistically well-considered. This first outing revealed
no mechanical weaknesses, or early faux pas of an interpretive
nature: Long and thorough preparation and serious planning
clearly preceded this performance.
Repertory defines intention as well as character, and this
program nicely contrasted lightness, seriousness and a full
musical range of interests.
|Haydn's sober and joyous Quartet in D,
Opus 76, No. 5, showed off not only the ensemble's emotional
facets, but its dynamic parameters and mechanical resources
as well--speed and lightness, mellowness of tone and long-limbed
|Haydnesque variety in a vivid contemporary
language marked the world premiere performance of Tania
Gabrielle French's String Quartet No. 2, "Communications."
French's mordant, witty and compressed style instantly engages
the listener; the ensemble contributed appropriate color
and breeziness to the new work.
|The peak of the evening was a probing
reading of Schubert's kaleidoscopic "Rosamunde"
Quartet, D. 804. Here, all the players' resources came to
bear on one of the most touching icons of the repertory,
with balances, sound, architecture and sensibility in place.
|Finally, a piquant encore underlined the
ensemble's Hollywood day jobs: a poignant arrangement of
a Randy Newman song from "Toy Story II."
|..Daniel Cariaga, Los Angeles Times.
|Santa Barbara News Press
January 11, 2001
|"It is easy to state that this performance
proved highly satisfying."