Recently released, the Cypress String Quartet's eponymous debut captures the group's maiden show of 2000, with stunning live recordings of Mozart's Quartet in A Major, K. 464, Beethoven's Quartet Op. 18 No. 5 in A Major, and Dan Coleman's Quartetto Ricercare. In an interview on the CD-ROM portion of the disc, 30-year-old composer Coleman explains how he tried to "amplify the subtle connections" between the earlier works -- Mozart's piece inspired Beethoven's -- which he says deal principally with harmonic relationships. Indeed, all of the pieces flow together with great elegance, as sweeping dynamics underpin gorgeous melodies, contrapuntal lines, and seamless transitions, all fed by Coleman's dramatic arrangements.
This year's "Call & Response" program calls for veteran composer Benjamin Lees to respond to Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 11 and Benjamin Britten's String Quartet No. 3. Though these 20th-century works explore a more modern -- and thus arguably more intense and provocative -- use of harmony and meter than the pieces from the inaugural show, both the virtuosic Cypress String Quartet and its increasingly diverse fan base will no doubt rise gracefully to the challenge.