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Takács Marathon, Part II

The opening Adagio of Mozart’s Quartet, K. 465, is an alien delight – and while a single dissonant A-G hardly suffices to speak of proto-Wagnerism, its long weaving, chromatic lines are visionary and beautiful. Especially so when a group like the Takács Quartet plays it, as they did to open their concert on Sunday, October 16th, at the Landon School Mondzac Performing Arts Center. What follows that introduction is as good and perfectly conventional (in so far as a great Mozart work can ever be called that) a string quartet as Mozart ever wrote. Little wonder it led Papa Haydn to his famous praise of Mozart as “the greatest composer known to [him] in person or by name.” The Takács’s beautiful tone and energetic allegros only underscored its beauty.

The second movement of the Debussy that followed seems custom tailored to the Hungarian/American quartet. Happily plucking away in the pizzicato-dominated passages of the Assez vif et bien rythmé, these musicians brought all the playfulness and joy they could to the work. On second violinist Károly Schanz in particular, an excitable guitarist was lost. The playing, for the entire concert, had the usual energy and enthusiasm that make the Takács one of our favorites; the cohesion of the group was fine and the occasional technical infelicities were atypical but barely worth even this mention.

Also on Ionarts:

Takács Addiction (October 4, 2005)

Where's My Takács? (March 10, 2005)

Amazing Audial Alliteration: Borodin, Bartók, Beethoven (October 17, 2004)

Dip Your Ears, No. 8: Béla Bartók, The Six String Quartets, Takács Quartet (August 5, 2004)
Of Mozart’s chamber – and perhaps entire musical – output, the string quintets are rightly considered the apex. The G Minor Quintet, K. 516 from 1787 stands out among its quintet-siblings for its somber, anguished, and pained nature. Drawing biographical analogies to Mozart’s life makes little sense (even if he did go through dark moods at the time of composition) because Mozart was as likely to counter the blues with especially light and sunny works as he was to let the darkness infiltrate his music. Joining Edward Dusinberre (first violin), the aforementioned Mr. Schranz, András Fejér (cello), and 2005 addition Geraldine Walther for the second viola part was ex-Cleveland Quartet violist James Dunham.

The Takács+ played out the long, wailing lines of the Adagio, creating a lamento that did not dwell on sadness, much less overly sentimental tristesse. Instead it contained somber clarity and almost matter-of-fact grief. It did not capitulate to the tragic, it accepted it. Perhaps it is from that acceptance that the fresh air and nearly elated mood of the finale’s Allegro can come? In that sense K. 516 is like a miniature Mahler symphony.

Too few people made it to the Mondzac Hall, given the reputation and quality of the performers. For the public transportation-bound it might be helpful to know that – on a beautiful day at least – it is only a 25-30 minute walk from the Bethesda Metro Station. Surely not too far a distance to hear the Takács or, for that matter the Belcea Quartet on November 13th or Steven Osborne on December 11th.

For more information about the F.A.E.S. Chamber Music Series, call (301) 496-7975.

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