- August 4 to 17, 2024

Formosa Quartet

The most retrograde of classical ensembles by appearances, the string quartet is a vibrant 21st-century phenomenon, to judge by the inauguration of the McGill International String Quartet Academy on Sunday night by the Formosa Quartet.This 7-year-old made-in-Taiwan ensemble exhibited a full quota of traditional virtues in Pollack Hall. Intonation was superb, rhythmic coordination was spot-on. Individual sonorities were balanced rather than blended, exposing the splendidly interior of Debussy’s String Quartet. Violist Che-Yen Chen was a remarkably smooth contributor to the Andantino movement. Cellist Ru-Pei Yeh supplied a steady foundation.Like many young quartets, the Formosa toggles violinists between first and second chairs-a debatable trend, although there was some logic in assigning the songful top line of Dvorak’s Op.61 to bright-toned Jasmine Lin rather than Stefan Milenkovich (who played first in Debussy, darkly). Again, the slow movement was remarkable for sustained tenderness, and if the first movement was over-refined-Dvorak a la Debussy-the folk inspiration of the finale was not neglected.From Taiwan came Shih-Hui Chen’s Mei-Hua, a three-movement synthesis of European harmonics and Asian glissandi that got off the page only in the peaceable and lyrical first movement.The public concerts, which are free, resume Thursday in Pollack Hall.(Photo : Formosa String Quartet, USA/Taiwan)
Arthur Kaptainis / The Gazette

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