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In performance: Takacs Quartet

Web-only review:

Takacs retains richness, even with pinch-hitter
by Joe Banno

In 35 years of performing, the Takacs Quartet has maintained a distinctively earthy warmth in its sound. Despite changes in personnel over the years, the group consistently found ways to marry a stellar, conservatory-honed technique with a robust playing style. At its WPAS recital in Strathmore Hall on Friday, the Takacs delivered beautifully molded, light-filled readings of Haydn's String Quartet in D, Op. 71, No. 2, and Beethoven's String Quartet in C, Op. 59, No. 3, which were both enlivened by rosiny, character-rich tone.

The sheer physical sound of bows meeting strings seemed to delight these players, whether in first violinist Edward Dusinberre's mix of sweetly spun notes and gutsy attacks, the throaty growl of Geraldine Walther's viola or the woodsy mellowness that András Fejér coaxed from his cello. Even the lean and tensile sound produced by guest second violinist Lina Bahn -- a member of the Corigliano Quartet who is temporarily replacing the Takacs's Károly Schranz, following his recent rotator-cuff surgery -- fit hand-in-glove with the kind of strongly individual work the others were doing.
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In Schumann's E-flat Piano Quintet, pianist Joyce Yang joined the ensemble, relishing the imperial swagger in the composer's bolder writing but proving just as memorable in her delicate treatment of the more inwardly focused passages. Yang's skill at melding her keyboard tone with the strings suggested musical maturity well beyond her 23 years of age. Together these five players gave luminous voice to Schumann's magical slow movement, and finished the piece with an infectious exuberance.

-- Joe Banno

By Anne Midgette  |  April 19, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  local reviews  | Tags: String quartet, Takacs Quartet  
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This was one of the strangest concerts I've ever heard. The Haydn was fair, nothing more. In my mind, the Beethoven was disappointing; there were muddy passages in each of the first two movements, and the explosive finale didn't crackle with the tension with which I've heard other quartets play it. On the other hand, the Schumann quintet was as good a performance of this work I've ever heard...there were excellent tempi throughout, inner voices were underlined in a way that most ensembles miss, and the propulsive finale was allowed to breathe where other players make for a headlong rush to the finish line. My only issue with the performance was that pianist Joyce Yang was just a little too percussive in places, particularly the third movement. This, however, is a very minor quibble in a performance which I shall remember for a long time.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | April 20, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

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