Takács Quartet reviewed in The Age

Beloved ensemble shows eloquent restraint
Clive O’connell, The Age
June 28, 2012

One of Musica Viva’s favourite guest ensembles, the Takacs Quartet, returns to Melbourne with two programs that follow a parallel course. Nearly all the works played come from the 20th century, the exception being Gordon Kerry’s six-year-old Variations for String Quartet that manages to complement its companion pieces through amiable humour and athletic lyricism that the Takacs personnel accomplish with evident relish. Beginning Tuesday’s recital, the group paired the final chamber works by Janacek and Britten. 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.

Britten’s third Death in Venice-indebted quartet also enjoyed an eloquent restraint, the substantial passacaglia-finale serving double duty as the composer’s farewell to arms and a moving exhibition of his craft in distilled form.

Cellist Andras Fejer gave considerable purpose to the work’s progress, but the ensemble’s unity of intent informed the interpretation from rippling opening to that famously inconclusive last bar. Ravel’s F Major Quartet concluded the program with exemplary finesse. On Saturday at 8pm, the Takacs Quartet plays the first string quartets by Janacek and Britten, Debussy’s solitary work in the form, and Kerry’s Variations.


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