Takács Quartet in the Adelaide Review
Robert Dunstan, The Adelaide Review
Musica Viva are once again touring Takács Quartet, a Grammy Award winning classical string quartet that formed in Hungary in 1975 but are now based in Boulder, Colorado, where they are artists in residence at the University of Colorado.
“We love coming to Australia because it’s a special place for us to tour,” violist Geraldine Walther says. “The people are all so warm and friendly and our new graduate quartet at the University of Colorado is actually from Australia. They are called Orava and are from Sydney. We heard them last time we were in Australia and they then applied to the university in Boulder so they’ll be spending two years with us. We hope to get Orava started on their career.”
Walther, principal viola player with San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for many years, joined Takács seven years ago following a fairly harrowing audition process.
“I’d heard about the position and really, really wanted the job,” the musician said. “I practised more than I’d ever practiced before and was getting up at 6am every morning. But they auditioned 10 people and I was the first, so I was really worried they’d just forget about me. So I kept at ’em and was constantly sending them emails saying how much I wanted the job. I didn’t want them to forget about me. But it all worked out.
“And I’m finally starting to feel like an old hand because I’m no longer the new kid,” Walther adds with a chuckle.
The quartet will be presenting two programs as part of their Australian tour and will be performing works by Janáček, Britten, Debussy and Ravel, while Australian composer Gordon Kerry’s 2006 work Variations for String Quartet will also feature in both programs.
“Doing different pieces each night is great for us as well as being quite challenging,” Walther suggests. “We also like to be in control of the repertoire even though it never feels the same each night. For example we never play Debussy’s String Quartet in G minor the same way each night because it always feel a little improvised. It’s almost like jazz in some ways. It’s like hitting a ball and seeing if the audience catches it.
“And Gordon Kerry’s Variations for String Quartet is quite a new work and brand new for us. But it’s a really good piece so we’re really happy to be playing that on every one of our Australian concerts.”