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by Daniel Hathaway

Takacs-Quartet-2What’s better than getting to hear the Takács Quartet twice in a week? Getting to hear them three times within a month!

Violinists Edward Dusinberre and Károly Schranz, violist Geraldine Walther and cellist András Fejér gave the Cleveland Chamber Music Society a pair of electrifying evenings with the six Bartók quartets on March 17 and 18 at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights. Then, after concerts in Boston, Berkeley, Richmond, Charlottesville and Philadelphia, they returned to the area on April 13 to conclude this season’s Oberlin Artist Recital Series with a no-less riveting program of works by Shostakovich, Webern and Beethoven in Finney Chapel.

The Takács are a classy quartet who bring a fine sense of style and deep levels of absorption to everything they play. Read the rest of this entry »

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By Mike Telin

WALTHER-Geraldine“I think it’s going to be a great experience playing this program, especially in Finney Chapel”, Takacs Quartet violist Geraldine Walther told us by telephone from Colorado. “It’s a gorgeous place and we love playing there.”

On Sunday, April 13 beginning at 4:00 pm. Walther and her Takács colleagues Edward Dusinberre and Károly Schrantz, violins and András Fejér, cello, will perform quartets by Shostakovich, Webern and Beethoven as part of Oberlin College’s Artist Recital Series.

The Takács were recently in the area for performances of the complete Bartók Quartet cycle, but looking at their concert schedule you discover that it’s not unusual for them to be back on the road with an equally intense program.

“Yes, we do kind of go for the gusto,” Walther said laughing. “But it’s great and we do enjoy it a lot. The string quartet repertoire is such that you can’t just let a piece sit, you’ve got to look at it again and refresh it. So it’s a constant process of revisiting pieces. Even if it’s something that we’ve played two weeks prior, we do sit down and rehearse it.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Takacs-Quartet-2A colleague at Monday evening’s first installment of the Tackács Quartet’s complete Bartók Quartet cycle looked up at the packed balconies of Plymouth Church and mused about why such a crowd would turn up for an all-Bartók concert but probably not for one dedicated to the music of Webern or Schoenberg.

Good question. Part of the answer undoubtably had to do with the performers. In choosing to invite the Takács Quartet to play all six quartets over two evenings (March 17 & 18), the Cleveland Chamber Music Society delivered a tightly-wrapped package for its patrons: a half-dozen of the finest string quartets written in the twentieth century played by an originally all-Hungarian ensemble who have these pieces in their bloodlines and have made a specialty of playing them complete in a short stretch of time. (Some years ago, the Takács did that in a single day at Reinberger Chamber Music Hall, a marathon some are still talking about.)

Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

McDonoughFor the fourth part of our preview of the Takács Quartet’s complete cycle of Bartók string quartets on the Cleveland Chamber Music Society series at Plymouth Church on March 17 and 18, we spoke with Jupiter Quartet cellist Daniel McDonough and Oberlin’s Associate Professor of Viola and Chamber Music Michael Strauss about performing and coaching the Bartók quartets, and come back full circle to musicologist Peter Laki for final reflections about the Takács Quartet. We spoke with all three by telephone.

Performing the Bartók Quartets. Cellist Daniel McDonough said, “The wonderful thing about the Bartók quartets is that they are so carefully constructed. Like Beethoven, there is so much attention to detail so the challenge is finding clarity in the texture and making sure the evolution of the musical motives are really clear to the audience without ever becoming too cerebral-sounding. We are always looking for an emotional way to bring clarity to the music. Again, like Beethoven, I think the combination of head and heart is wh Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

LAKI-PeterFor the first of four articles leading up to the Takács Quartet’s performances of the complete Bartók string quartets on the Cleveland Chamber Music Society series on March 17 and 18 at Plymouth Church, we spoke by telephone with Bard Conservatory’s visiting associate professor, Peter Laki.

Laki began writing program notes for The Cleveland Orchestra in 1990. He has taught at Case Western Reserve University and has also held appointments at Oberlin, John Carroll and Kent. A native Hungarian, he received his diploma in musicology from the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, and is an authority on Hungarian music.

In addition to giving the 6:30 pm pre-concert lectures before each Takács Quartet performance, Laki will lecture about “Bartók and the Hungarian Musical Tradition” at the Hungarian Heritage Museum on Saturday, March 15 at 2 pm.

Mike Telin: You must be one of the world’s foremost authorities on Béla Bartók.

Peter Laki: I don’t know about that, but I am from Hungary and I did go to school at the Franz Liszt Academy where every day I walked past the classroom with the plaque that said “This is where Bela Bartók taught piano.” Read the rest of this entry »

TakacsQuartetFollowing the Takács Quartet’s April 2013 performance of Bartók’s six string quartets, Classical Voice North Carolina’s headline read, “Bartók String Quartets — Takács Quartet: Genius Meets Brilliance””. On Monday, March 17 and Tuesday, March 18 beginning at 7:30 pm at Plymouth Church, the Cleveland Chamber Music Society presents the Takács Quartet, Edward Dusinberre and Károly Schrantz, violins, Geraldine Walther, viola and András Fejér, cello in performances of the six quartets by Bartók.

Monday’s performance includes Quartets Nos. 1, 3, & 5 and on Tuesday, Quartets Nos. 2, 4 & 6. Beginning at 6:30 pm each evening a pre-concert lecture will be given by Cleveland Orchestra program annotator and Bard Conservatory of Music faculty member, Peter Laki. Laki will also give a lecture on “Bartók and the Hungarian Musical Tradition” at Cleveland’s Hungarian Heritage Museum on March 15 (see concert listings).

Beginning Thursday, March 12 and continuing through Sunday, March 16, ClevelandClassical will post daily features highlighting Bartók’s music, specifically his six string quartets. Musicians, musicologists and audiences will share their thoughts about the composer’s music and his legacy to classical music.

by Daniel Hathaway

CCMS-Logo-64The lineup for the sixty-fourth season of the Cleveland Chamber Music Society has its board members buzzing with enthusiasm. “Yes, there are world famous string quartets,” said Melvin Arnoff, “but also three pianists, a guitarist, a soprano, clarinets, flutes and percussion. And the composers range from Bartók, Beethoven and Britten to Dean, Dessner and Parry. This promises to be a “WOW” season.”

Anthony Addison agrees and mentions his favorites. “All six Bartók quartets and a return of eighth blackbird are the high spots of the season, as far as I am concerned. Cuarteto Casals with Manuel Barrueco on guitar, and Pavel Haas playing Janáček, Britten and Beethoven are a very close second. It’s a fascinating season.”

CCMS’s season begins at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights on Tuesday, October 15 at 7:30 with a program of salon music from the British Isles, Russia, France, Germany and Italy performed by soprano Susanna Phillips, pianist Anne Marie McDermott and violist Paul Neubauer.

Barbara Green is especially enthusiastic about the first concert in the series. “I first heard Susanna Phillips when she was still a student at Juilliard and a participant in the Art Song Festival. She had a lovely voice, a fine command of the texts, and that certain quality which I can only describe as ‘presence’. I have followed her career for many years and was delighted to read the review of her performance [at the Metropolitan Opera] in today’s New York Times. How exciting it will be to hear her again!” Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

TakacsQuartetSmReferring in a recent interview to the Brahms-Haydn-Brahms program the Takács String Quartet cooked up for their March 19 Cleveland Chamber Music Society concert with Garrick Ohlsson (and repeated the following evening at Lincoln Center), violist Geraldine Walther exclaimed, “Who would have thunk it! But it actually does work and it’s a really satisfying concert to hear.”

The unusually large crowd in Plymouth Church last Tuesday evening agreed enthusiastically with that assessment as the Takács and their distinguished piano colleague dug deeply into the structure and substance of Brahms’s Quartet in a, op. 51, no. 2, Piano Quintet in f, op. 34 and Haydn’s Quartet in B-flat, op. 76, no. 4, sculpting performances that rank among the most distinguished and compelling of the CCMS season to date.

The two Brahms works are fascinatingly dissimilar — the quartet lyrical but abstract, the quintet craggy and visceral. The Haydn — especially in the magical hands and bows of the Takács — provided a delicious entremet and made for just about as much fun as you could possibly have at a chamber music concert. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

TakacsQuartetThe Takács String Quartet, originally formed in Budapest in 1975 and since 1986 in residence at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will return to the Cleveland Chamber Music Society series on Tuesday, March 19 at 7:30 at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights.

Pianist Garrick Ohlssohn will be the special guest for Brahms’s Piano Quintet in f, op. 34. Also on the program are Brahms’s Quartet in a, op. 51, no. 2 and Haydn’s Quartet in B-flat, op. 76, no. 4.

Compared to other long-standing groups, the membership of the Takács Quartet has been remarkably stable over its 38-year history. British violinist Edward Dusinberre took over the driver’s seat in 1993 and another British musician, Roger Tapping, replaced the original violist in 1994. Tapping was succeeded in 2005 by Geraldine Walther, who left her post as principal violist of the San Francisco Symphony to join the quartet. We spoke with Walther by phone in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

 

The TakácsWALTHER-Geraldine String Quartet, originally formed in Budapest in 1975 and since 1986 in residence at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will return to the Cleveland Chamber Music Society series on Tuesday, May 19 at 7:30 at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights.

 

Pianist Garrick Ohlssohn will be the special guest for Brahms’s Piano Quintet in f, op. 34. Also on the program are Brahms’s Quartet in a, op. 51, no. 2 and Haydn’s Quartet in B-flat, op. 76, no. 4.

 

Compared to other long-standing groups, the membership of the Takács Quartet has been remarkably stable over its 38-year history. British violinist Edwin Dusinberre took over the driver’s seat in 1993 and another British musician, Roger Tapping, replaced the original violist in 1994. Tapping was succeeded in 2005 by Geraldine Walther, who left her post as principal violist of the San Francisco Symphony to join the quartet. We spoke with Walther by phone in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Read the rest of this entry »

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