Interview with Takács Quartet’s András Fejér – part 1
András Fejér is officially on holiday when we speak, but still brimming with good humour from the Takács Quartet’s Australian tour the previous month.
‘I loved it,’ he enthuses. ‘There’s such care and affection and kindness and energy. We just keep grinning like little kids.’
With the last tour still so fresh, and the next firmly on the Quartet’s radar, we can dispense with the formalities of an introduction, and concentrate on the question of repertoire. The Quartet has an Australian Bartók cycle behind it; on its 2012 tour, two quartets by Benjamin Britten are on the program. To Fejér, this is a fair exchange with Edward Dusinberre, the Quartet’s first violin and only British member.
‘Ed has been an extremely good sport, learning all the Bartók Quartets 17 years ago. So we feel it’s long overdue that we should learn to play all the Britten quartets,’ he says.
A Britten cycle in the UK is on the schedule for later this year, so that when they play the First and Third Quartets for Musica Viva, they will bring the context and experience of a complete overview with them. Until now, only the Third – Britten’s final quartet – has been in their repertoire. It is a resoundingly pessimistic piece, written in 1975, a year before the composer died.
‘It’s really depressed and dark,’ says Fejér. ‘It’s glorious – wonderful.’
Glorious and wonderful? To be depressed?
‘There are many ways to be depressed,’ clarifies Fejér. ‘There’s a glorious history of that very feeling in literature, going back to medieval times. Seeing the way a contemporary composer gets to the subject is always fascinating, because you hear motives from Gregorian times. It’s very profound. It’s so primal that you cannot hide behind orchestration.’
© Shirley Apthorp