Date of EventFriday, 22. 5. 2020 from 20.00
Expected end of the concert 22.00
Event placeRudolfinum – Dvořák Hall
Price200 - 700 CZK Sold out
- Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 16 in F major Op. 135
- Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 6 in B flat major Op. 18 No. 6
- Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 9 in C major Op. 59 No. 3 “Rasumovsky”
- Takács Quartet
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The Takács Quartet, which now enters its 45th season, is an ensemble renowned for its original, innovative approach to well-known works. After their recent concert in London’s Wigmore Hall The Financial Times wrote: “Even in the most fiendish repertoire these players show no fear, injecting the music with a heady sense of freedom. At the same time, though, there is an uncompromising attention to detail: neither a note nor a bow-hair is out of place.”
The quartet was established in 1975 by four students of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. They achieved worldwide acclaim two years later after winning first prize at the Evian festival in France. It wasn’t long before they received a series of other international awards. In 2001 the Takács Quartet was presented with Hungary’s Order of Merit, Knight’s Cross, and in 2011 each member received the Order of Merit, Commander’s Cross, from the president of Hungary.
The ensemble has naturally seen some changes over the years, while their high standard of playing remains to this day. First-rate students from the University of Colorado gradually took up the baton from the founding members: violinists Edward Dusinberre and Harumi Rhodes, violist Geraldine Walther, and cellist András Fejér, an original member, perform more than eighty concerts each year.
The Takács Quartet has also received numerous distinctions that are not typically awarded to string quartets, a fact which highlights their exceptional qualities. In 2012 they became the first string quartet to enter Gramophone magazine’s Hall of Fame, and a year earlier they won the Award for Chamber Music and Song presented by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London.
The Takács Quartet has recorded variously for Hyperion – the string quartets of Haydn, Britten, Janáček and Smetana, and the piano and viola quintets by Franck, Shostakovich and Brahms. Their recordings for the London-based Decca label garnered awards from BBC Music Magazine and Gramophone, along with a Grammy and three Japanese Record Academy Awards.
The ensemble takes pride in its inventive programming and in projects that overstep the traditional concert framework. In New York’s Carnegie Hall, at Princeton University and in Toronto the quartet appeared with Academy Award-winning actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep in a programme based on themes from the novel Everyman by contemporary American writer Philip Roth.
The quartet members also teach at Colorado University and regularly take part in chamber music summer courses where they pass on their experience to talented young musicians.
The life and work of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) have long since played a key role for the Takács Quartet – not only on the concert platform, but also on a theoretical level (leader Edward Dusinberre is the author of the book Beethoven for a Later Age: The Journey of a String Quartet); the quartet was also involved in a drama project which explored the circumstances surrounding the genesis of Beethoven’s last quartets.
The Difficult Decision
The concert will begin with Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 6 in B flat major, which was published in 1801 and bears a dedication to the Bohemian aristocrat Joseph Franz, Prince Lobkowitz. The first movement is in classic sonata form and is conceived as a dialogue between the first violin and the cello, whose part is then taken up by the second violin. The second, minor-key movement, characterised by unexpected accents and silences, opens with a lyrical melody in the first violin, which is interrupted by a curious motif in the cello and viola. The Scherzo is a hard-hitting, punchy movement founded on rhythmical syncopation. The last movement represents the heart and culmination of the entire piece and, according to the composer, should be played “with the greatest delicacy”. The initial adagio is filled with melancholy, while the second part is exultant in temperament in an evocation of a Viennese ballroom or German folk dance.
String Quartet No. 16 in F major appeared more than twenty-five years later and it is also the last work the composer completed. In the year the quartet was written Beethoven stated: “I can only hope I can give to the world some great pieces of music, and then, like an old child, to end my earthly doings amongst decent people.” The piece is shorter than Beethoven’s other late quartets, even so, it has great depth and conveys some of the difficulties its author was facing. Above the slow chords in the introduction to the last movement Beethoven wrote: “Must it be?”, to which he responded a few bars later alongside the faster main theme: “It must be!”. The whole movement is headed: “The Difficult Decision”.
The concert will close with String Quartet No. 9 in C major, known as the “Rasumovsky” (reflecting its dedication to the Russian ambassador in Vienna). Thanks to its polished structure, this work became the prototype of the perfect string quartet form. The composer employed an innovative approach particularly in the lengthy experimental development in the first movement and in the final fugato, which had hitherto been typical chiefly for the symphony. The first movement is reminiscent of Mozart’s “Dissonance” quartet, in which the slow, sombre and dissonant introduction gives way to the bright Allegro of the main subject. The second movement uses the gypsy mode and is probably also intended to evoke the barren and bleak landscape of the Siberian tundra. The third movement is a light minuet which provides the thematic motif for the last part. The final movement is conceived as a fugue in which all four instruments are gradually brought in, creating a continuous succession of quavers and minims. The quartet ends with a huge crescendo, culminating at maximum fortissimo.