Takács Quartet Visits NZ
By Yasmine Ryan
One of the world’s finest string quartets, the Takács Quartet, will be performing one-stop shows in both Wellington and Auckland on 18 and 20 November respectively. The quartet is made up of András Fejér, Roger Tapping, Edward Dusinberre and Károly Schranz. Scoop speaks to viola player Roger Tapping.
Takács Quartet (L-R) András Fejér, cello, Roger Tapping, viola, Edward Dusinberre, violin and Károly Schranz, violin.
Roger Tapping is an incredibly eloquent speaker; his skills as a musician translate well into his conversation. He speaks to Scoop from the University of Colorado, where the four musicians are based It is, he tells me, a beautiful place nestling in the Rocky Mountains, and as he speaks he is looking out his window, through which he can see the blue sky and snow-capped mountains.
The University of Colorado has been home to the Quartet since 1983, when they first became its Artist in Residence. There the Quartet does some teaching, including the coaching of a graduate string quartet. “It’s a wonderful place to come back and relax between tours” says Tapping. They do most of their recording on their tours, however, most recently in the United Kingdom “because we have a great location there.”
The Quartet was formed on a Budapest soccer field, of all places, in 1975. Half of the current Quartet were part of this mythical founding: Schranz and Fejér studying at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music. Tapping and Dusinberre, who Tapping describes as – “a brilliant player and a brilliant person” – joined relatively recently, in the early 1990s. Audience in New Zealand will be treated to three pieces: the String Quartet in C Opus 76 No 3 ŒEmperor by Haydn, Bartok’s String Quartet No 4 (1928), and Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No 2 in A minor Opus 13.
Written in 1797, Haydn’s “Emperor Quartet” was infamously twisted by the Nazi Party in the 1940s into a hymn for military expansionism. The first verse was then outlawed in Germany in the 1950s. This meaning was one imposed upon the piece, however, and not what was intended by its composer.
Tapping says he likes the Emperor’s Quartet as it was written later in Haydn’s life and so is purely audience-focused, “whereas his earlier pieces were written more for friends.” The piece is “big and boisterous, and really fun to play” and the viola player enjoys “the famously slow-moving Emperor’s Hymn, after which the piece is named” in particular.
Bartok’s String Quartet No 4, meanwhile, is “one of the most exciting and atmospheric” of Bartok’s six quartets. Bartok is somewhat a specialty of the Takács Quartet: “It’s very physical and earthy music, and we have recently been playing with a Hungarian folk band, which has deepened our understanding of Bartok.”
As for the piece by Mendelssohn, Tapping describes it as being “an astonishing piece, a passionate, imaginative piece of music, it is quite astonishing when one learns it was composed by an 18 year old – it has the maturity one normally obtains at 50.” Written a few months after Beethoven’s death, Mendelssohn was clearly influenced by the great composer and his String Quartet No 2 in A minor Opus 13 “shows a very thorough understanding of [Beethoven’s] later pieces.”
HAYDN String Quartet
in C Opus 76 No 3 ŒEmperor¹
BARTÓK String Quartet No 4 (1928)
MENDELSSOHN String Quartet No 2 in A minor Opus 13
Thursday 18 November @ 8pm
Wellington Town Hall, A reserve $60, B reserve $50
Book at Ticketek (04) 384 3840 (service fees apply)
Saturday 20 November @ 8pm
Auckland Town Hall, A reserve $60, B reserve $50
Book at Ticketek (09) 307 5000 (service fees apply)
The group is presented in recital by Chamber Music
For more information, see http://chambermusic.co.nz/artists/63.php