The Leipzig String Quartet, founded by principal musicians of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, is a group to hear. Especially when they are presented, as they were on Tuesday night's Concordia D.C. series at the United Church in Foggy Bottom, in a free concert. The organizers, working with the German Embassy, are to be commended for inviting the group and for providing drinks at intermission, but in the future the intermission refreshments should be kept out of the performing space, as the noise of clanging bottles and movement was a maddening distraction throughout the performance. At one point it delayed the start of Schubert's delicate "Rosamunde" Quartet, as the musicians themselves looked, somewhat surprised, toward the clamor at the back of the sanctuary.
The Leipzigers are worth hearing in contemporary music, too, but it is the classical composers that are most up their alley. Haydn's op. 20/4 opened the concert with a glowing, resonant sound, soaring on the long notes at the start of the first movement and then winding up with energy, but not restless agitation, later. The slow movement was radiant and melancholy, especially in the variation that mostly excluded first violinist Stefan Arzberger, who disappointed with a few too many squeaks and squawks that night. The wrong-footed dance of misplaced accents enlivened the gypsy music-flavored third movement, with cellist Mathias Moosdorf in a graceful leading role in the trio, while an understated wit shook up the fast-moving finale.
Cecelia Porter, Music review: Leipzig String Quartet (Washington Post, February 16)
The Concordia D.C. series continues with free concerts by the the Aliage Quartet (February 23), the Chamasyan Sisters (February 24), and pianist Sara Daneshpour (March 4), in the United Church (1920 G St. NW).