Carl Vine on the Takács Quartet
More Gulyás Please
A vital part of Musica Viva’s long-term legacy may be found in the relationships that are established between its component parts. Some of our touring ensembles teaching in schools around the country have worked in that capacity for more than twenty years, and have established enduring friendships with music teachers and the schools themselves. We help our national concert audiences discover new musicians from around the world and to follow their progress as careers unfold and reputations expand.
Our favourite Austrian brothers spring to mind, the Eggner Trio, whom we have followed closely since their first Australian appearance, winning first prize at the 2003 Melbourne International Music Competition. They have toured nationally for us four times, including appearances at the Musica Viva Festivals in Sydney in both 2008 and 2011. Their fame continues to grow overseas, but we will see them again in just a few years’ time.
But Musica Viva’s most regular and most enduring international visitor must be the Takács Quartet. In the 37 years since its formation as a group of young Hungarian music students, we have rarely let more than three years pass without seeing this quartet. The group is most renowned for its performance of the complete cycle of Beethoven Quartets, which it last presented for us in 2001, and for the cycle of Bartok quartets, which it performed to universal acclaim at the Musica Viva Festival last year.
The group’s concert tour this year covers all of the capital cities plus Newcastle, between the 19th of June (Perth) and the 2nd of July (the second Sydney concert). Hungarian enclaves around the country are already setting aside their chunkiest cuts of meat to go into the goulash (‘Gulyás’) that will keep up the players’ energy while on the road.
This year, out of deference to their British first violinist (or at least that’s what they’re telling him), they have prepared for the first time all three of Benjamin Britten’s quartets, and present the first and last on this concert tour. These are complemented by Janáček’s two quartets, also cornerstones of The Takács Experience, and the two indispensable French quartets, by Debussy and Ravel respectively.
This banquet of quartet opulence is rounded out by a work of great wit and finesse by our Featured Composer for 2012, Gordon Kerry. His ‘Variations’ was commissioned by Diane Parks in association with Musica Viva Australia in honour of David Bookallil’s sixtieth birthday.