The Takacs Quartet

December 9, 2006 at 10:06 PM · Okay, so I admit it: I do not buy chamber music cd's (especially quartets). Yes, I know it may sound wrong, but it's true. So please don't flame me about this thread... =)

Anyway, I had the privilege of playing a masterclass (with my quartet) for the Takacs Quartet. (actually Karoly Schranz was the one who listened to us) And I must say, I had fun.

I had a little trouble understanding what he was trying to say (because of his thick accent), but he was really warm and very funny. Great charismatic man. Infact, all of the members of this quartet were very pleasant to talk to/play for.

So we played the last mvmt of Brahms Quartet No.1, and got a LOT of work done on it...and Karoly actually took the second violinist's violin and started playing for him one of the passages. pretty fun.

I was just wondering if anyone knew anything about this quartet. I know the music department chair at my high school was telling me about how they're considered one of the best in the biz, but I was wondering if anyone had any personal insights on this quartet?

Oh, and they also played for us the 3rd mvmt of Bartok's 6th quartet. Pretty amazing stuff.

(I do know that they teach @ U of Colorado Boulder)

Replies (27)

December 9, 2006 at 10:51 PM · You got to play for Karcsi Schranz?!?!? Lucky!! My quartet got to play for Gerry Walther, their violist, last spring and she was just fantastic. We also talked with Ed Dusinberre and András Fejér, and they are two of the nicest, funniest guys I've ever met. But we never got to meet Károly, he must have been really tired or something because he left immediately after the concerts. That was too bad, because I liked his playing best of all!

So yes, in case you can't tell, I am a HUGE fan of the Takács. They really are one of the best quartets out there--the thing that most amazes me about them is how they can have such perfect ensemble, but also each have such distinctive individual sounds. Their recording of the Bartók quartets is absolutely the definitive, and their late Beethovens must be heard to be believed.

December 10, 2006 at 06:39 AM · Two years ago a friend and I drove four hours each way to New York from Baltimore in order to see the Takacs Quartet play a concert from a Beethoven cycle in their final year with Roger Tapping, the former violist. Simply put, it was the finest string quartet performance I have ever seen.

One of the biggest regrets of my musical life so far was not being able to accept an invitation to a summer residency with them due to personnel issues in my old quartet. These are four of the greatest musicians alive, and in terms of stature and reputation, the Takacs belongs in the first rank of American quartets alongside the Guarneri Quartet and the Emerson Quartet, and in terms of actual current musical performance, IMHO it surpasses both.

So, yeah I've heard of them! ;-)

December 10, 2006 at 08:13 AM · agree. one of the top quartets on the concert circuit.

they were tapped to play piano quintets with the competitors in the 2005 Van Cliburn Piano competition... brahms, dvorak, schumann. snippets of these played in HD on PBS. superb quintet playing.

December 10, 2006 at 01:58 PM · Hi,

One of the supreme chamber ensembles in the world! Great from every standpoint. Their Bartok cycle both recorded and live is not the be missed.

Cheers!

December 10, 2006 at 03:13 PM · I have their recording of the Beethoven Op. 18 Quartets which I think is phenomenal. They have such great contrast and dynamics. When I played the first quartet when I was at camp, I also listened to the recording of the Tokyo string quartet with Pinkas Zukerman, I think I like the Takacs better, though the Tokyo String quartet recording was very good too. I would love to see them sometime, for now I think I would like to collect more of their recordings.

December 10, 2006 at 05:27 PM · I saw the Takacs play a concert in Harris Hall in Aspen a few years ago. We were able to sit behind them and it offered an interesting perspective. Everyone there was blown away. I agree with everyone above and they really are the real deal. They play with brilliance, but with refinement and impeccable taste. Truly one of the great quartets of our time.

December 10, 2006 at 06:19 PM · I bought their "Death and the Maiden" CD a few weeks back. All I can say is click on this link and buy it NOW!

Neil

Why are you still reading this? GO BUY IT!!

December 11, 2006 at 02:03 AM · Neil, you crack me up. I'm almost afraid you're going to appear behind me, saying, "I TOLD you to click on the link. You didn't, did you?"

A FABULOUS quartet - every recording I have of theirs I just love. (Dvorak's "American" - sigh....!) Hmm... maybe I WILL click on Neil's link - I love "Death and the Maiden." The second movement is an all-time favorite of mine. (Behind the "American.")

December 11, 2006 at 02:08 AM · Oh Neil, you just liked that CD cover, didn't you? Have to admit, it's... wow! (As you can see, I clicked on your link. So stop looking over my shoulder now.)

December 11, 2006 at 02:17 AM · one of the finest string quartets today!

December 12, 2006 at 02:30 AM · Got their dvd of death and the maiden, Hayden, and Beethoven SQ....fantastic!

MP.

December 12, 2006 at 03:40 AM · The two recordings I've listened to of the Takacs are Beethoven 59 1 and 3, and they are absolutely incredible. They are an undeniably great quartet.

December 12, 2006 at 04:17 AM · I love their DVDs! I have both of them. :) There's a really funny bit in the first mvt of Death and the Maiden--the camera is focusing on the violinists, when Ed Dusinberre suddenly hits a slightly sour note. Then Karoly Schranz immediately shoots him a death-ray glare! I burst out laughing when I first saw it and it still cracks me up!

December 12, 2006 at 05:25 PM · I'm going to their concert in New Jersey in January (check their website for details). Program: Debussy, Shostakovich 11, Brahms 2. Can't wait!

December 13, 2006 at 05:59 PM · i'm glad to see so many takacs quartet fans. i love their playing; they're my favourite quartet.

their ensemble work is unreal. they blow me away every time i hear them. as far as i'm concerned, they are every bit as good as any quartet from the past and in a lot of ways i think they are superior than many legendary quartets: capet, busch, juilliard, guarnieri, emerson, orford, tokyo, you name it. they have a sound that is so unique, it just glows.

wish they'd come to toronto more often!

December 13, 2006 at 07:04 PM · "They have a sound that is so unique..."

No kidding! Play me 100 quartet recordings, and I'll be able to pick out the Takacs in a split second. I recognized them on the radio once, even though it was a recording from 20 years ago. :)

Szeretem a Takács Vonósnégyes!!!! I love the Takacs Quartet!!!

December 14, 2006 at 08:11 AM · Hey Maura,

have you heard the quartet with the "original" members? I know that only one-half of the original members remain...I always wondered how the original quratet sounded/played like (for example, what type of chemistry they had on stage...etc)

Anyway, We played the Brahms Quartet No.1 Last movement, and we learned SO MUCH in just one hour. Actually, Schranz asked me if I was interested in going to the summer camp @ U of Colordao Boulder. Now I'm very tempted to go to that instead of meadowmount...hmm what should i do? I loved the time i had with schranz! such a character!

December 14, 2006 at 02:42 PM · There are some recordings out there that feature the original members. Brahms quartets, and the Bartok Quartets are still in print I believe. If you go to Europe, esp. Hungary, you can find most of their earlier recordings.

December 14, 2006 at 04:08 PM · I really enjoy the "old" Takacs recordings and had the oppotunity to see them when Gabor Omai was still alive (a really fine violist--what a loss). Edwin Dusinberre had recently joined them, and as much as I admired his excellent playing, he seemed a bit like the odd man out. The performance was amazing: Bartok, Haydn, & Beethoven. But the thing that moved me most was their unusual encore: Movement 2 from Dvorak's American String Quartet--full of yearning and memory and loss.

December 14, 2006 at 10:21 PM · I have a recording of the original Takács playing a Schumann quartet and also the "Trout" quintet with Zoltán Kocsis (!). They sounded different back then--Gabor Takács-Nagy's sound seemed to me a bit brighter and more "sparkling" than Ed Dusinberre (whose playing I also adore), and Gabor Ormai was just incredible. They were still recognizable though, I sense a really surprising continuity in their various incarnations.

December 16, 2006 at 07:27 AM · Takacs is coming to Portland OR

Jan 15 and 16, 2007. i'm there.

December 16, 2006 at 03:14 PM · >But the thing that moved me most was their unusual encore: Movement 2 from Dvorak's American String Quartet--full of yearning and memory and loss.

OMG, I would have SCREAMED if I heard them start that up as an encore. That is my all-time favorite piece of quartet repertoire (followed closely by Schubert's "Death" 2nd movement). I'll be going to hear Takacs perform next spring in Santa Cruz - wonder what the odds are...

Okay, here's a question on this quartet. Am I pronouncing the name right?

TAH - katch

or is it

Tah - KATCH

or

TAH katzzch

Maura? Maura?

December 16, 2006 at 04:52 PM · My husband, of Hungarian descent, pronounces it "Tak" (rhymes with sock) - "ozsh" (rhymes with posh), emphasis on first syllable and a lot of "zsh" at the. My apologies to all authentic Hungarians!

December 16, 2006 at 07:18 PM · OK, time for Magyar 101. :) In Hungarian, the letter "a" is pronounced somewhere between English "a" and "o", so yes, the first syllable would rhyme pretty well with "sock". The "á", with the accent mark, is longer and pronounced more at the front of the mouth, sort of like the A in "Alice". The "cs" is just "ch" as in "cheese".

And pronounciation tips for if you get to meet them: the letter "s" is pronounced "sh", so their cellist's name, András, is pronounced "Andrash" (and I already told you about the difference between "a" and "á"!)

The letter "ly" (yes, that is one letter!) is pronounced just like "y" or "i", so their second violinist Károly's name is pronounced "Károi". And the other two in the quartet are a Brit and an American, so you'll have no trouble there. :) Class dismissed!

Edit: whoops, forgot--in Hungarian, the stress is always on the first syllable, which can lend the language a very nice poetic cadence but when you get word salad like "tántorithatatlanság", you may find yourself gasping for air. :)

December 16, 2006 at 07:38 PM · Thank You, Prof. Gerety. I will send you a huge batch of my fabulous Chicken Paprikas.

December 16, 2006 at 07:52 PM · Thanks, Jane and Maura!

Maura, what would we do without you? And BTW, have you ever noticed that my name is spelled the Hungarian way? I just changed the spelling (originally the French "Therese" with the two accents in the middle) so that people would pronounce it correctly. What fun to go to Budapest (you'll like that I insist on pronouncing it Budapesht) and see my name all over the place. : )

December 16, 2006 at 08:13 PM · Anne, that's my favorite! :)

Terez, I did notice. :) I have an odd multilingual name--Irish first name, Hungarian last one. Sometimes I spell my first name "Mara" and then I'm full Magyar. :)

Hajrá Magyarország!!

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