21 June 2012
Neville Cohn, The West Australian
Perth Concert Hall, June 21, 2012
Czech composer Leos Janacek might not have had ideal domestic arrangements but they paled almost into insignificance compared with those described in Tolstoy's famous story The Kreutzer Sonata, whose descriptions of illicit love, envy, vengefulness and murder sparked a burst of creativity in the musician. Janacek’s String Quartet No. 1, subtitled The Kreutzer Sonata, which it triggered, is one of the glories of the chamber music repertoire.
Its performance by the visiting Takacs Quartet was far more than an instance of skilled communication between musicians and audience. Rather, it came across as a profound form of communion between performers and composer. This is a rare phenomenon and all the more effective for that. The work seethes with violent emotion but it has moments of come-hither seductiveness as well and on all counts the Takacs players could not be faulted.
Mark Coughlan, The Australian
June 21, 2012
FOR an ensemble such as the Takacs Quartet, which consistently receives rave reviews in the world’s leading journals, one should always expect music-making at the highest level. Judging by this concert at the Perth Concert Hall, the quartet, whose relationship with Australia spans three decades, is in top form.
...In the Janáček, each thematic idea and contrasting episode was sharply defined with a distinct musical character and tone colour. The players have a formidable control over their sound and create the most impressive array of beautifully blended sonorities. In the opening passage of the Britten, the high ethereal writing had none of the cool blandness one often hears; it was played with a warmth and subtle energy that brought a sense of inner life to the music. The slow third movement was perfectly judged in its serenity and powerful expressiveness and was the highlight of the night. The quartet concludes with an exuberant finale that was full of playful good humour.
Hearing this work as a series of four vividly painted tableaus, I was struck that these musicians were, above all, great storytellers.
...The first two movements of Debussy’s String Quartet in G minor were given an animated and highly charged reading with brisk tempos that built up considerable musical momentum. The third movement, by contrast, was breathtaking in its stillness and ravishing tonal sheen, a perfect vehicle for demonstrating, yet again, the effortless artistry of the Takacs Quartet.
Intelligent take on a difficult program brings own rewards
Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald
June 26, 2012
For the latest of its always welcome Australian tours, the Takacs Quartet has constructed two rich programs exploring youth, maturity, national difference and the influence of an absent centre.
Each starts with one of Janacek’s two quartets, both written in the 1920s in his late years, and each closes with either Debussy’s or Ravel’s single quartet, both early works signalling first maturity before the composers moved on to create defining music of the Impressionist era.
In between are the youthful first and late third quartets of Benjamin Britten and the Variations for String Quartet by Gordon Kerry, both of whom share a capacity to create new meaning from classical genres and gestures.
The programs avoid the genre-defining classical works of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, although as violinist Edward Dusinberre mentioned in an introduction, they were a silent presence.
Janacek’s String Quartet No.1 “After Leo Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata”, is compulsively volatile in mood and texture as it moves between passionate intimacy, nagging jealousy and the characters and subjectivities represented in Tolstoy’s novella. The Takacs Quartet drew it all together with an overarching balance of sound and collective musical intelligence that converted the idiosyncratic changeability into an insightful narrative of human pain and fallibility.
Beloved ensemble shows eloquent restraint
Clive O’connell, The Age
June 28, 2012
...Contrary to the paint-stripping passion usually applied to the Czech composer’s Intimate Letters quartet, the Takacs approach showed physical and emotional control, the trademark brief melodic bursts juxtaposed in whole blocks rather than as meat trays of different cuts.
Janacek’s autobiographical canvas was portrayed with a splendid brand of serene fervour, best exemplified by the driving viola of Geraldine Walther and the piercing, finely drawn top line of Edward Dusinberre.
... Ravel’s F Major Quartet concluded the program with exemplary finesse.