Performance Saturday, April 14, 2012 | 7:30 PM

Takács Quartet

Zankel Hall
For its second of two nights at Carnegie Hall, the Takács Quartet presents Janáček’s fascinating “Intimate Letters” quartet, inspired by 700 obsessive love letters the composer wrote to a married woman 37 years his junior, and Britten’s final major work. The evening concludes with Ravel’s only string quartet, the Quartet in F Major, a piece featuring nostalgic melodies dedicated to the composer’s teacher Fauré.


  • Takács Quartet
    ·· Edward Dusinberre, Violin
    ·· Károly Schranz, Violin
    ·· Geraldine Walther, Viola
    ·· András Fejér, Cello


  • JANÁCEK String Quartet No. 2, "Intimate Letters"
  • BRITTEN String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94
  • RAVEL String Quartet in F Major


  • Takács Quartet

    Recognized as one of the world's great ensembles, the Takács Quartet plays with a unique blend of drama, warmth, and humor, combining four distinct musical personalities to bring fresh insights to the string quartet repertoire.

    Winner of the 2011 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Chamber Music and Song, the Takács Quartet is based in Boulder at the University of Colorado. The 2011-2012 season focuses on the music of Janáček, Britten, Debussy, and Ravel, with performances in major cities across the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. This season also features collaborations with pianists Garrick Ohlsson and Joyce Yang, and cellist Ralph Kirshbaum.

    The quartet's award-winning recordings include the complete Beethoven cycle on the Decca label. In 2005, the late Beethoven quartets won Disc of the Year from BBC Music Magazine, a Gramophone Award, and a Japanese Record Academy Award. The Takács' recordings of the early and middle Beethoven quartets collected a Grammy, another Gramophone Award, a Chamber Music America Award, and two additional awards from the Japanese Recording Academy.

    In 2006, the Takács Quartet made its first recording for Hyperion Records-Schubert's D. 804 and D. 810. A disc that featured Brahms's piano quintet with Stephen Hough was released to great acclaim in November 2007 and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy. A recording of Brahms's Op. 51 and Op. 67 quartets was released in the fall of 2008, and a disc that featured Schumann's Piano Quintet with Marc-André Hamelin was released in late 2009. The quartet's recording of the Haydn "Apponyi" Quartets was released in November 2011.

    The Takács Quartet is known for its innovative programming. In 2007, it performed Everyman  with Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman at Carnegie Hall, inspired by the Philip Roth novel. The group collaborates regularly with the Hungarian folk ensemble Muzsikás, performing a program that explores the folk sources of Bartók's music. In 2010, the quartet collaborated with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and playwright David Morse in a production of Quartet, a play set in Beethoven's later years when he was writing the A-Minor Quartet, Op. 132.

    At the University of Colorado, the Takács Quartet has helped to develop a string program with a special emphasis on chamber music, where students work in a nurturing environment designed to help them develop their artistry. The quartet's commitment to teaching is enhanced by summer residencies at the Aspen Festival and at the Music Academy of the West. The Takács is also a visiting quartet at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

    The Takács Quartet was formed in 1975 at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest by Gábor Takács-Nagy, Károly Schranz, Gábor Ormai, and András Fejér while all four were students. It first received international attention in 1977, winning first prize and the critics' prize at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France. The quartet also won the gold medal at the 1978 Portsmouth and Bordeaux competitions, and first prizes at the Budapest International String Quartet Competition in 1978 and the Bratislava Competition in 1981. The Takács made its North American debut tour in 1982. Violinist Edward Dusinberre joined the quartet in 1993 and violist Roger Tapping in 1995. Violist Geraldine Walther replaced Mr. Tapping in 2005. In 2001, the Takács Quartet was awarded the Knight's Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary; in March 2011, each quartet member was awarded the Commander's Cross Order of Merit by the president of the Republic of Hungary.

    More Info


Ravel String Quartet F Major (Vif et agité)
Quartetto Italiano

At a Glance

LEOŠ JANÁČEK  String Quartet No. 2, "Intimate Letters"

Young Kamila Stösslová provided the spark that ignited the white-hot blaze of compositional activity in the last 10 years of Janáček's life. Their passionate but platonic affair—expressed in hundreds of letters—inspired such masterworks as the operas Kát'a Kabanová  and The Makropulos Affair. Above all, Janáček immortalized his young muse in the second of his two string quartets, which he described as having been "written in fire."

BENJAMIN BRITTEN  String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94

Written just over a year before his death, Britten's Third String Quartet is a profoundly moving meditation on themes that had preoccupied the composer for many years. References to Britten's operatic masterpiece Death in Venice, which explores the relationship between homosexual love and creativity, are embedded in the score. Although the work has no extra-musical elements, each of the five movements allude to the opera, either directly or obliquely.

MAURICE RAVEL  String Quartet in F Major

This youthful masterpiece signaled Ravel's emergence as Debussy's peer and heir apparent. The composer's first and only string quartet elicited largely favorable comparisons to Debussy's celebrated String Quartet in G Minor. Recurring intervals, melodic shapes, textures, and sonorities give the four movements a powerful sense of organic unity.

Program Notes


Jeremy Geffen introduces Ravel's String Quartet in F Major

This performance is part of A Golden Age of Music, and Chamber Sessions III.

Part of