Hong Kong String Quartet City Hall Theatre January 21 If string quartet-playing is the music of friends, then the Hong Kong String Quartet has the best music around, for the entire City Hall Theatre was packed with friends, admirers, students and colleagues. But they did not need these personal tributes; once again, this admirably international group proved most impressive. While their Beethoven and Schumann were effective enough, the most imaginative contribution was a premiere by David Gwilt. Professor Gwilt has not only taught virtually every local serious musician, but has always been an interesting composer himself. Classifying him, though, would be an impossible task, for he suits his style to his statement, with the powers to make both work. This work, Fleeting Glances, offered six David Gwilts, in the form of six short movements for the quartet, none lasting more than two minutes. Yet, like Prokofiev's analogous title, Fugitive Visions, they were more than bagatelles. Each movement had a style and variation all its own. They ranged from the modal-religious, to disjointed 'walking' music, to a lyrical violin solo (played beautifully by Wong Sze-hang) to a funky 'dialogue' between violin and cello against the rumbling of the other two instruments. If they lacked the Prokofiev irony, they had the wit of brevity, lack of sentimentality, and an honest sense of the string quartet as a musical conversation. The other works were far more serious for the group, but they made a good showing, though the Beethoven 'Harp' quartet started so beautifully, with such warmth and harmony in the introduction, that the following movements never reached the mysterious radiance of the beginning. The second half was an energetic - no, almost a frenetic - performance of Schumann's Quintet, with Choi Sown-le on piano. The dynamic balance of piano and strings was never quite right here, as Mr Choi gave a virtually percussive performance, while the strings played with a happier, heartier enthusiasm.