Dover Quartet review- Northwestern Music School’s Quartet-In-Residence opens Winter Chamber Music Festival 2019

Dover Quartet opens Northwestern University's Winter Chamber Music Festival, January 11, 2019
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On January 11, 2019, as the opening act in Northwestern University’s 2019 Winter Chamber Music Festival, the school’s Quartet-in-Residence, Dover Quartet, presented an astonishingly cohesive program of carefully curated musical works at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus. Festival Music Director Blair Milton has described this quartet as remarkably talented; they perform all over the world to wide acclaim.

The works on the program included:

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Quartet No. 3 in E-flat minor, Op. 30, 1876

This absorbingly beautiful work has been described as a piece of “profoundly felt and powerful sustained sorrow and grief”. The sense of pain actually dominates the entire 42-minute work. The performance was, from first to last, a compelling entrée into the listener’s consciousness that lingered long after the concert had ended. The seeming ease with which Dover Quartet managed the lengthy and technically demanding score was only belied by their careful visual attention to each other.

The work has an unusual structure, an enormous first movement which seems to dwarf a less than 5 minute scherzo, and an extended stunning Andante Doloroso that doubles the finale. The Quartet carried off an emotional through line for the entire performance creating a strong organic link and resolution.

Joel Link, Bryan Lee, Camden Shaw and Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, the Dover Quartet, at Northwestern’s Winter Chamber Music Festival, 2019

Mason Bates From Amber Frozen, 2004

Bates himself has described this intriguing and perky piece as forming gradually, with melody and texture “growing at an evolutionary pace”.  The piece emerges via  plucked out-of-tune notes while bell-like sustained notes herald the intriguing melody to come. The work is “informed” by Bates’ affinity for “electronica” as well as by the broken-glass sounds of the Indonesian percussive instrument gamelon.

Dover brought a young and game approach to this sometimes fractured-sounding piece filled with rich and varied textures. The music gathers itself from an erratic sensibility into a definite lyrical form and then actually decomposes back into the fragmented space, losing pitch and disassembling- quite fascinating!

Franz Schubert Quartet in G major, D. 887, 1826

This glorious four-movement piece begins with alternating major and minor chords in compelling rhythm that will recur throughout. Quieter passages segue into more energetic motifs, surrounding an intriguing and unusual harmony. The dramatic second movement contains numerous martial phrases and sudden upward violin glides and drops; it’s lustrous and multi-textured. The third-movement scherzo was a light-hearted and rapidly paced trading-off of instruments, moving into the finale that harks back to the first movement although more extreme, faster paced and dancelike.

The concert hall was filled to capacity, the audience enthralled- all in all, a very fine concert!

Northwestern University Quartet-in-Residence, The Dover Quartet, on stage at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on the Evanston Campus, January 11, 2019

All remaining performances begin at 7:30 p.m. at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, located at 50 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

Single tickets for any Winter Chamber Music Festival concert are $30 for the general public and $10 for students with a valid ID. Tickets are available at, by phone at 847-467-4000 or by visiting the box office located in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at 50 Arts Circle Drive on the Evanston campus.

Winter Chamber Music Festival subscriptions are also available and include a variety of benefits, including savings of up to 30 percent.

For concert tickets and more information, call the Bienen School ticket office at 847-467-4000 or visit

The Bienen School is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.


All photos by Evan Robinson-Johnson for the Bienen School of Music.



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