“The Catalyst Quartet offered a dynamic performance of Joan Tower’s lyrical, melancholic ‘In Memory,’ inspired by events of Sept. 11, 2011.”
- The New York Times – Oct. 16, 2015

Catalyst Quartet Gets Down and Dirty at Kohl Mansion
“Catalyst Quartet members passed for country fiddlers and even a Brazilian samba band in a recital of folk-based string quartet works.  The most compelling pieces were contemporary takes on non-Western folk traditions.  Stirred by his encounters with violence during a trip to Israel, Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov drew on Middle Eastern musical traditions for Tenebrae. In one particularly chilling passage, violist Paul Laraia emulated a traditional lament, while first violinist Karla Donehew-Perez provided an echo effect at the end of each phrase, playing an obsessive melodic figure as she shifted her bowing from the bridge upward toward the fingerboard.  The resulting, eerie tone color sounded like it had been produced in an electronic studio rather than by an acoustic violin.”
- SF Classical Voice – Nov. 18, 2015

“Catalyst Quartet was excellent in Marcus Goddard’s atmospheric ‘Allaqi’ for string quartet.”
- Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times –October 30, 2014

“Burlingame’s swanky, century-old Kohl Mansion isn’t a venue where you would expect to hear good-old-fashioned folk music. Its oak-paneled Great Hall usually serves as a stage for the chamber music of Brahms and Beethoven. And while the Catalyst Quartet is a classical chamber ensemble, in its Nov. 15 concert members passed for country fiddlers and even a Brazilian samba band in a recital of folk-based string quartet works.” -San Francisco Classical Voice, CA

“The concert ended with the remarkable Brahms String Quartet No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 51, No. 1. There is so much going on throughout its 30-minute duration that at times I felt as though I were listening to a huge Symphonic work reduced for four players of a string quartet. The energy and drama in this great work, plus its supremely effective writing for the instruments, was totally absorbing and earned a standing ovation.” -Peninsula Reviews Carmel, CA

 

“Invariably energetic and finely burnished…The Catalyst Quartet, a new ensemble sponsored by Sphinx, played the Allegro Rustico movement from Ginastera’s Quartet No. 2 with an earthy vigor that made you wonder why whoever assembles Sphinx’s programs did not have them offer the complete work.”–New York Times, NY

“In a program of overflowing energy, the Catalyst Quartet—another branch of the Sphinx Organization—performed single movements from the second quartets of Michael Nyman and Alberto Ginastera, each with relentless rhythmic force.” -Chicago, IL

“One last piece dominated the proceedings, the String Quartet No. 2, Op. 26, by Alberto Ginastera from Argentina, played by the Catalyst Quartet, the first-chair players from the Sphinx Virtuosi. They were scheduled to play just Ginastera’s finale, but in a spirit of enthusiasm presented the whole quartet, all five movements of it Through Ginastera’s perpetual-motion opening movement and finale, his ghostly scherzo full of special sound effects, and the two cautious, softly dissonant slow movements, the resemblance to a really good performance of a Bartók quartet was unmistakable.” -San Francisco Classical Voice, CA

Northwest Bach Festival in Spokane WA:
“The Catalyst Quartet playing was a continual source of pleasure. Careful to keep within the bounds of string playing appropriate to 18th-century music, they nonetheless succeeded in revealing the wealth of wit and pathos that lies in nearly every measure of Bach’s great work. All four players employed light pressure on the string and used vibrato as Bach would have expected: as an occasional ornament, rather than a constant means of tone production. The result was a sweet, airy sound, capable of many shades of expression. In the Gould String Quartet, the group’s sound darkened considerably, in keeping with the stylistic language of the work. Early in his career, Gould was deeply involved in the music of the Second Viennese School of composers.. These are the influences most noticeable in his String Quartet, and account for its dominant tone of brooding, super-heated emotion. Catalyst responded by digging into their strings more deeply and producing tone colors that would have been out of place in the Bach.”
- Spokesman Review – March 4, 2015

 

“The Catalyst Quartet took the stage for Osvaldo Golijov’s ‘Tenebrae.’ It’s a meditative work whose floating mists and cosmic ambiguities can, in the wrong hands, seem like music to do yoga by, but the Catalyst players turned in a serious, convincing account. The tone shifted from dark to light when the quartet launched into ‘Strum,’ a hugely enjoyable new work by Jessie Montgomery. Turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life, ‘Strum’ sounded like a handful of American folk melodies tossed into a strong wind, cascading and tumbling joyfully around one another.” -Washington Post, DC

“Some complain that classical music was written by dead white guys, is performed by white musicians and listened to by white senior citizens. Luckily, there are groups like the Catalyst Quartet to combat this trend. They serve not only to foster performer diversity but also to promote works by non-white composers… melodies emerged from between the cracks of tightly nested repeating cells and snaked in and out of the pulsing framework, occasionally taking wayward dips before retreating to allow a new theme to materialize.” -Oberlin Review, OH

“The Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival’s commitment to new music plays out throughout
the two-week event. Monday’s concert featured some compelling music, polished craftsmanship and percolating ideas that deserve wider circulation. Played energetically by the Catalyst Quartet, the String Quartet No. 4 (2011) packed a lot into three short, tightly argued movements. The music soared in the sweetly nostalgic finale.” – Detroit Free Press, MI

“Goddard’s Allaqi, performed by the Catalyst Quartet stood out.  I was moved and enthralled by the quartet’s performance, seeing the notes lifted high into the room, painting this grand picture.”
Splash Magazine

 “The first movement of Michael Nyman’s String Quartet No. 2 (1988) combines elements of minimalism with a rock aesthetic in a virtuoso setting. The finale Furioso movement, from Argentinean Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 2, Op. 26 (1958), certainly shows Bartók’s influence, but through a South American prism. This music is “in your face” seething, frantic and fabulous fun.” -Classical Voice Greensboro, NC

The Catalyst Quartet opened the Modlin Center season in Richmond VA:
“The Catalyst takes a rather old-school approach to its music-making, phrasing without excessive edginess, producing a generally mellow sonority with a big, rich bass, reminiscent of great quartets of the past such as the Guarneri and Budapest. Bartók Quartet No. 3 is a showcase of spiky harmonic language that characterizes the master’s mature music. The performance didn’t underplay those qualities – cellist Rodriguez slid quite effectively, and violinist Donehew-Perez produced rarified, spider-webby figures faultlessly. The ensemble gave a comparably romantic sheen to Beethoven. String tone was robust and rounded with no shortage of vibrato, tempos were moderately paced, in the finale a hint of Haydnesque effervescence and volatility. The group’s sound and the music’s style were best reconciled in Brahms, a songful outpouring of high-romantic tone and phrasing that the four musicians audibly relished. The first violin paced a sweetly lyrical andante, and the closing movement’s set of variations found the ensemble in its most plushly sonorous collective voice.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch - Sept. 9, 2015

“The last work on the first half was one that few in the audience have heard in its entirety, Samuel Barber’s String Quartet, Opus 11. But most people are familiar with the arrangement for string orchestra of the quartet’s second movement, the “Adagio for Strings.” Surrounding this beloved lyrical movement are two much more dissonant and rhythmically complex pieces which the quartet played with as much assurance and ease as they did the lyrical adagio. I was very impressed by the many string colors that the quartet created.” -New York Concert Review, NY

“Classical music is for everyone – or, at least, it should be. That’s the message the Catalyst Quartet is bringing to Houston.” -Houston Chronicle,TX

“New and old works dotted the playbill… The Haydn war-horse got a fresh take. Their energy shone in the perfect ensemble unity of the opening Allegro con spirito movement, and continued to present a remarkably mature Adagio second movement. The concluding movement was nothing short of fantastic.” -Journal Star Lincoln, NE