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OCT. 17

Since its inception in 1969 at the Julliard School of Music, the Tokyo String Quartet has been covering extensive ground in the highly competitive chamber-music genre. Whether it’s appearing on Sesame Street, teaching at Yale, or recording a new record for Deutsche Grammophon, the Tokyo String Quartet approaches its craft with a vigor and dedication wrought from over 30 years as an ensemble. In 1999 cellist Clive Greensmith (formerly principal cellist of London’s Royal Philharmonic) replaced founding cellist Sadao Harada, but the ensemble still sounds seamless. That’s fortunate, because many quartets, even first-rate ones, experience a “shake-up” when personnel changes occur. Of course the Tokyo quartet has an ace up its collective tuxedo sleeve: Its members perform using the “Paganini Quartet,” a set of Stradivarius instruments the foursome’s had on loan since 1995. In tonight’s program, the Tokyo String Quartet spans the 200-year history of the string-quartet repertoire, performing works by Beethoven, Mozart, and Shostakovich, along with Hungarian composer Gyorgy Kurtag’s 1977 composition 12 Microludes. With his sparse, economical style, Kurtag has been heralded as one of the strongest voices in new music today, and while Microludes is a sharp contrast even to Shostakovich’s Quartet No.1, it’s a great preview of the direction in which the genre is headed in the 21st century. After the concert, stick around to chat with the Quartet at the free post-performance dessert reception. At 8 p.m. at the Barns of Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road, Vienna. $30. (703) 218-6500. (Amy Domingues)