The Portland String Quartet put a spotlight on works by two Maine composers – Peter Ré and Elliott Schwartz – on Sunday afternoon, when it played its second concert of the season at Woodfords Congregational Church. And for good measure, the quartet added a work by Paul Hindemith, with whom Ré studied, and another by Beethoven, who one could argue was the teacher, if only by example, of any composer who turned his hand to the quartet format after him.

Ré, who taught at Colby College from 1951 until his retirement in 1986 and died in 2016, was given pride of place here, by way of his Quartet No. 3 (1987). He composed the work for this ensemble, which has recorded it, along with the first two quartets, for Albany Records.

The three-movement score is stormy and sometimes brusque, but never really harsh, and though the players gave its fast outer movements an energetic, hard-driven performance, they also took care to highlight the work’s lyrical qualities and rhythmic inventiveness.

Its most memorable material is in the central slow movement, which radiates warmth, but also a sense of disquiet. This is where Ré’s imagination seems to have been particularly sparked. Its textures and mood change quickly, with sweetly harmonized passages giving way to darker episodes, which in turn morph into aria-like sections in which individual instruments seem to soar, however briefly, over the ensemble.

Hindemith’s Quartet No. 7 (1945) tells us a lot about how a major composer, who was a refugee from wartime Europe, processed the spirit of his time – in this case, a mixture of questions, doubts and fears for the future, tempered by hope and a touch of relief. But in the context of this program, it also gives us further insight into Ré.

In terms of language and mood, the two works, though separated by 42 years, have a great deal in common, starting with a mildly thorny language, rhythmic variety and vitality and most of all, an alternation of tension and lyricism.

The players – violinists Dean Stein and Ronald Lantz, violist Julia Adams and cellist Patrick Owen – made a strong case for it, bringing out the almost folk-like melodies within the angular third movement and keeping the counterpoint in the finale carefully balanced, even in moments where Hindemith’s vigorous, lurching rhythms threatened to upend that precision.

Elliott Schwartz’s Quartet No. 3 “Portrait of Deedee” (2016) has had an unusually good year, for a new work. The Portland String Quartet gave the work its American premiere at the Portland Conservatory’s Back Cove Contemporary Music Festival in April, and the Cassatt Quartet played it at Space Gallery, as part of the Seal Bay Festival, in July. Having reviewed it both times, I will note only that Schwartz, who died last year, composed it as a tribute to his wife, Dorothy, a visual artist who died in 2014.

There is always the danger that a new work in a mildly dissonant idiom might wear out its welcome by its third encounter in eight months, but there is considerable charm in this piece, which weaves quotations from works of the past without dwelling on them. And the ensemble has it fully under its fingers: This was the freshest and liveliest of the three performances I’ve heard.

Beethoven’s Quartet No. 11 in F minor (Op. 95), nicknamed “Serioso,” closed the concert with a sudden shift from modernism to comforting familiarity of the Romantic mainstream. The challenge for the Portland players was to make it sound not just familiar, but fresh, and that they did, in a performance that made Beethoven’s notes leap off the page as if they were the substance of a dialogue between these four excellent players.

Allan Kozinn is a former music critic and culture writer for The New York Times who lives in Portland. He can be contacted at:

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