Takács Quartet & Jean-Yves Thibaudet in New York

String Quartet in G minor, Op.74/3 (Rider)
String Quartet No.3 in B flat, Op.67
Piano Quintet in F minor

Takács Quartet [Edward Dusinberre & Károly Schranz (violins), Geraldine Walther (viola) & András Fejér (cello)]

Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano)

Reviewed by: Victor Wheeler

Reviewed: 26 April, 2008
Venue: Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, New York City

Gabor Takács-Nagy, who left the quartet in 1993 to pursue a solo careerThe Takács Quartet was founded in Hungary in 1975 (and now based in Boulder at the University of Colorado) and named after the then first violin Gabor Takács-Nagy. Two of its original four members still play in the quartet: Károly Schranz and András Fejér.

With every note it played, from the snappy dance-like first movement of the ‘Rider’, through the lugubrious beginning of the third movement of Brahms’s B flat String Quartet, to the frequent emotional outbursts in Franck’s Piano Quintet, the Takács Quartet’s genius was fully on display. The colours and nuances of each piece were executed with such great emotion, assurance and persuasiveness.

The musicians’ playing of the finale of the Haydn fully demonstrated why the sobriquet ‘Rider’ fits. The galloping rhythms of the movement were so believably played that I could sense thundering hooves dashing across the stage where the quartet was seated. Geraldine Walther’s viola solos in the Brahms were exceptional. She captured the moods and the vibrancy of the music, and her clarity of sound was stunning.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet In the Franck, Jean-Yves Thibaudet proved a perfect fit for the Takács. With tension supplied by the strings, he entered on a light evocation of the first notes of the opening movement, while the bumblebee buzzing effect the strings produced at the beginning of the finale were matched by the pianist’s runs. What an ingenious contrast of emotions!

Thibaudet’s performance was exceptional. Whether he played solo or with the quartet, his control was marvelous, as was his fluency of the music’s idiom and his subtle yet powerful dexterity. His dialogs with the quartet ranged the gamut of emotions. At times the tension produced by all five musicians was so palpable that the chromaticism of a following piano solo caused me to exhale. Only great musicians playing great music could cause such an emotional seesaw.

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