Author: Edward Sava-Segal


In their second appearance last week in the Zankel Hall, the Takács Quartet selected a non-adventurous program including three works, each from a different century. What made this performance outstanding, was not only the immaculate technique displayed and the cohesiveness of the ensemble, that everyone seems to be taking for granted, but the interpreters’ ability to bring forward and shed new light on details one might have ignored even in these relatively frequently performed works.

Takács Quartet goes to the heights with Beethoven

By Andrew L. Pincus, Special to The Eagle


LENOX — Haydn invented the string quartet form, Beethoven who studied briefly with Haydn, went beyond      
the old man and everybody else in development of the form and content. To hear a fine performance of a late Beethoven quartet or sonata is to connect to the divine, whoever or whatever the divine may be for you.

Intentionally or unintentionally, the Takács Quartet made the point at Tanglewood on Wednesday night, playing Haydn's Opus 20, No. 4, and following it with Beethoven's Opus 130. The deeply immersing performances passed up opportunities for dramatics in favor of refinement of tone, ensemble and expression. The inner drama of the music spoke for itself.

The Times
by Geoff Brown
May 17, 2017

There may be more medically precise quartets, but I’d plump for Takács’s fire any day over performances laid on a surgical slab


There’s nothing special about the way the Takács Quartet programme Beethoven’s string quartets. An early one, a middle one, a late one: and voilà, home and dry. But is there anything routine about their playing? Absolutely not. Often it takes just the first notes — and Beethoven’s openings are famously arresting — for the audience’s heart to leap.

South China Morning Post
by Martin Lim
September 24, 2016

Unaffected playing gives voice to the stark differences in works from composer’s early, middle and late periods while also emphasising Beethoven’s unifying musical vision

Through four decades of music-making, the Takács Quartet have shown that focusing on the works of a single composer can reveal as much about the players as the music.

The quartet’s initial Bartók cycle in the mid-1980s championed the composer as a fellow Hungarian nationalist. Returning to the same works 15 years later, and with the British-born Edward Dusinberre having replaced founding first violinist Gabor Takács-Nagy, the quartet presented the composer as a well-travelled modernist.

The Straits Times
September 19, 2016

Takács Quartet Plays Beethoven
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Concert Hall/Last Friday

It is no secret that Beethoven's string quartets are hardly performed on concert stages here.

Over-reverence and trepidation on the part of musicians account for this and audiences here are the poorer as a result. So it was a treat to witness an evening of Beethoven quartets performed by the world- renowned Takacs Quartet.

Formed in 1975 by four Hungarian students in Budapest, it is now based in Boulder, Colorado, with two of the original members still performing. The interpretation of Beethoven's 16 string quartets is the bedrock of its repertoire and the three quartets performed come from the three distinct periods of composition in the German composer's career.

BBC Music Magazine
by Jessica Duchen
July 2016

Anyone can play with wild abandon; few manage to make it sound pretty. The Takács Quartet The music of César Franck seems to have gone unaccountably out of fashion, and what a pity that is. How marvellous, then, to encounter his blistering, no-holds-barred Piano Quintet, one of the masterpieces of its genre, scrubbing up bright in the hands of some of the best advocates it could hope for. The Takács Quartet matches the music’s mystic fervour and impassioned rhetoric with burnished intensity of tone, through which Marc-André Hamelin’s apparently effortless virtuosity dashes and dives with scintillating clarity.

Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung - (Hanover Daily Newspaper)
May 11, 2016
by Silja Meyer-Zurwelle

The Takács Quartet in the Christuskirche, Hanover

If Franz Schubert’s ‘Rosamunde’ Quartet were a vocal rather than an instrumental work, the Chamber Music Society could hardly have invited better interpreters than the Hungarian Takács Quartet. This ensemble, founded in 1975, is often heard in leading concert halls, such as the Wigmore Hall in London and the Carnegie Hall in New York. For this third concert in the Chamber Music Society’s ‘Classics ‘ series, the four artists took their place on the stage of the Christuskirche.

They began the evening with the song-like ‘Rosamunde’ work by Schubert, demonstrating the full singing power of their instruments. As they braved the reverberant acoustic of the Christuskirche – not entirely favourable to the intimate Schubert style, with its delicate scoring – it almost seemed as if the violins, viola and cello were an extension of the artists’ vocal chords. With this quartet ensemble, every note is given an intensive vibrato, filled with life, and spun onto the next.

Vorarlberger Nachrichten
May 9, 2016
by Fritz Jurmann

HOHENEMS – Much celebrated debut

Schubertian string quartet connoisseurs have long been awaiting the worldwide renowned Takács Quartet, founded in 1975. Finally on Saturday its much celebrated debut arrived: as expected, the ensemble swept through the Markus Sittikus Hall like a tempest, with that incredible mixture of dramatic tension and warmth that have become its trade mark. Their thrilling, vivacious performing style made Dvorák’s String Quintet in E flat a particular sensation. Though less well-known than the ‘American’ String Quartet, it is equally chock-full of typically ‘New World’ melodies, often in dance style, that give the work an almost exotic undertone. By adding a second viola (Lawrence Power) the sound is made distinctly dark and mysterious; but often it also takes on an almost orchestral richness and intensity, particularly in the finale.

The Financial Times
by Hannah Nepil
February 7, 2016

The Hungarian ensemble played with freedom but also an uncompromising attention to detail

Anyone can play with wild abandon; few manage to make it sound pretty. The Takács Quartet is an exception. Even in the most fiendish repertoire these players show no fear, injecting the music with a heady sense of freedom. At the same time, though, there is an uncompromising attention to detail: neither a note nor a bow-hair is out of place.

This served them well in the UK premiere of Timo Andres’s Strong Language at Wigmore Hall. First performed in Baltimore last November, the piece sets out with a straightforward ambition: to demonstrate that just three solid ideas can carry a piece lasting more than 20 minutes.

Gramophone Magazine
By Patrick Ruker
June 2016

When the seasoned artistry of the Takács Quartet blends with the thoughtful brilliance of Marc‑André Hamelin, a rare alchemy occurs. Their fruitful collaboration on record goes back to a 2009 Schumann Quintet (11/09),with a Shostakovich Quintet released last year (5/15). Their new recording of Franck’s Piano Quintet, one of the glories of the 19th‑century French chamber repertory, stands comparison with some of the best, including Curzon/Vienna Philharmonic, Richter/Borodin and Cortot/International (formerly EMI).

The Quartet casts down the gauntlet with an implacably assertive opening statement in the Franck, setting the stage for an Orpheus‑and‑the‑Furies‑style dialogue with the piano. It’s a compelling approach to a movement that, on occasion, can become an uncertain, diffuse prologue to the main event of the Lento and Allegro non troppo. But what begins as a dialogue between strings and piano soon becomes a discourse among five musicians, urgently argued with lacerating intensity. The cohesion brought to this emotional caldron, one feels, could only be the result of complete unity of purpose shared by five musical minds.

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