In only their third public concert, Inner Voices String Quartet presented a confident, satisfying program at Modern Studio on Anderson Avenue in Happy Holler Friday evening.
Guest violinist Robyn Quinnett joined Inner Voices’ four musicians: violist Christina Graffeo, cellist Jeanine Lafitte, and violinists Ruth Bacon and Rachel Loseke, for the big work on their program, Johannes Brahms’ “String Quintet No. 1 in F Major,” Op. 88, written for two violas. Violinist Loseke switched to the viola for the piece.
Also known as Brahms “Viola Quintet,” the added viola contributed, depth and warmth to the middle voices.
With Brahms’ typical seriousness, all of the voices in this piece receive equal attention. But, in the second movement, there were also light, dancing figures that connected the more contemplative passages, with delicate, exquisitely played touches at the end.
Inner Voices began their program with writer, poet, painter and composer, Dosia McKay’s 2013 string quartet “Is Now Not Enough?” Based on McKay’s poem “Unfurling,” the music explores the interplay between the restlessness of the creative spirit, moments of excitement and time for contemplation.
It’s also a thoughtful piece that illustrated the connection between Inner Voices’ four players whose awareness of each other and the subtleties of shifting conversational interplay are the mechanisms that form the difference between good quartets and merely functional ones.
Although Inner Voices doesn’t perform often due to other musical obligations and the commitments of life in general, the quartet works, indeed.
Dedicated to highlighting women composers, the third work on their program was Jessie Montgomery’s 2006 “Strum,” revised in 2012.
With the instruction to hold their instruments and play them like guitars, there are moments that sound guitar-like, even the brittle, sharp-edged sound of banjos. It’s a magical, sometimes turbulent, enthusiastic piece that moves around on excited tip-toes.
It’s also infectiously boisterous and colorful; delightful, but not aggressive.
It suited Inner Voices well.
It’s been more than a year since Inner Voices’ last concert. One hopes their next one will have a much shorter period of silence preceding it.