"... the Guarneri lends a peerless radiance to every note and phrase."
— National Public Radio
"The musicianship, experience, and sophisticated intent of this group continue to grow, and to hear the rhythmic vitality in the inner voices of Dalley and Tree is always a treat. Sunday night the playing of the quartet was more interesting and affecting to hear than it was during those decades when technical perfection could be taken for granted, because it was even more fully human."
— Boston Globe
"The Guarneri String Quartet gave another superb performance Wednesday evening at the Kennedy Center ... which drew a capacity audience.... The Guarneri traversed the music's deft counterpoint and harmonic sweetness with spellbinding fluidity."
— Washington Post
"Peerless ensemble forgoes schtick for musical brilliance
Each chamber ensemble has its own distinct personality. That of the Guarneri, which has been around an astonishing 42 years, is suave style.
The ensemble's sound, like the ensemble itself, has no peer. The foursome -- Arnold Steinhardt and John Dalley, violins, Michael Tree, viola, and Peter Wiley, cello -- produce a focused yet effortless flow of notes that can change meaning and character in a flash.
And while the quartet may look reserved onstage, eschewing the histrionics that have become part of the schtick of many younger performers, their playing is anything but. The Guarneri is composed of musicians, not entertainers, and all you have to do to understand them is listen.
Wiley, the only replacement in the makeup of the original quartet, is every bit a match, and a perfect foil, for Steinhardt, whose playing and personality has long dominated the group. Wiley brings youth and energy to the ensemble, and their playing has been invigorated.
The famous Quartet in C Major, K. 465 ("Dissonant") by Mozart and a work composed expressly for the Guarneri -- Quartet No. 5 ("In Search of La Vita Nuova") by Richard Danielpour made an interesting and apt pairing on the first half. Both are emotionally charged, juxtaposing periods of soulful lyricism with others of wild intensity, and in each the Guarneri drove right to the heart.
Many point only to the chromatic slow introduction of this Mozart quartet as the reason for the subtitle but in fact this music is complicated, edgy and, yes, dissonant in many passages; it's just that our 21 st-century ears take Mozart's subtle discords in stride.
Danielpour's music has not been heard often in Columbus even though he has emerged as a leading contemporary composer. His highly conversational music allowed the quartet to move from the treble domination of the classic era to a state of greater equality among the voices, and all players proved to be stars.
It is as nothing for the Guarneri to embrace romanticism with big open arms, after dwelling extensively elsewhere.
Their reading of Dvorak's Quartet in C Major, Op. 61 had all the sweep and grandeur of the big gesture, though in the singularly gracious, happy way in which this composer characteristically writes."
— Barbara Zuck, Columbus Dispatch