This new four-CD set of chamber music from the magnificent Takacs Quartet has been released to coincide with their Australian tour this month. For those who have not encountered Takacs before, it is the perfect introduction and for those who do attend the concerts I am sure it will be a perfect reminder of what are bound to be wonderful concerts.
Two highlights of my CD acquisitions over the last couple of years have been the two instalments of Beethoven Quartets from Takacs; the final instalment -“ the grand late works -“ is due next month. Although they have visited Australia a number of times, I have not had the pleasure of seeing them live. I am particularly looking forward to this concert because it is precisely a dynamic live quality that makes the quartet such excellent recording artists.
Takacs’ original members came together as young music students in Budapest almost 30 years ago and they regrouped in the mid-90s after the exit of their founder Gabor Takacs-Nagy and the death of their violist. Since 1995 they have been led by Englishman, Edward Dusinberre.
This collection covers recordings produced by both incarnations of the quartet and covers everything from the classic to the modern. If there is a consistency across the different pieces and the two different formations of the group, it is that they absolutely give each piece its due. They are more concerned with authentic Mozart or authentic Dvorak than authentic Takacs.
Haydn’s Opus 76 Suite of Quartets is justly celebrated as one of his finest achievements and is one of the most wonderful series in the quartet repertoire. The Emperor is played to perfection on the first CD and will feature in one of the local concerts. The wistful honeyed tones of the luscious second movement are given the weight of emotion they deserve but are also beautifully controlled, preventing any descent into sheer sentiment.
If Haydn provides a fitting way into the quartet repertoire, Bartok is the Takacs’ difficult finale. The group bring all their skill and erudition to his No 4. They produce an energetic excitement that makes of this chaotic piece absolutely thrilling music.
The Dvorak and Schubert selections are also breathtakingly played.
The Takacs Quartet performs for Musica Viva at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, 29 November at 7pm and 4 December at 8pm. Bookings: 1800 688 482.