…Adès was at the center of a chamber concert the following evening at the Mozarteum featuring the Calder Quartet. The composer joined them for his Piano Quintet, creating floating, impressionistic atmospheres that are juxtaposed with the strings in Ivesian fashion. His grotesque harmonies and melodies underscore the sensation of seeing the music through a prism, as the musicologist Richard Taruskin noted early on, evoking surrealism. The Calder players were so homogeneous in texture and rhythm that they at one point resembled a glass harmonica.
They were just as outstanding in the string quartet Arcadiana, which features a macabre tango, a heartbreaking allusion to Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and a final movement, “Lethe” (the river of forgetfulness in Hades), in which the melodies lose their way and droop into nothing. Adès’ music won powerful context alongside Kurtàg’s Moments Musicaux, with its intricacies and wide-ranging references, and Schubert’s String Quartet No.14 (“Death and the Maiden”), in which the composer grapples with death and his lost youth.