The Takács Quartet, now entering its forty-second season, is renowned for the vitality of its interpretations. The New York Times recently lauded the ensemble for “revealing the familiar as unfamiliar, making the most traditional of works feel radical once more”, and the Financial Times described a recent concert at the Wigmore Hall: “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 Takács became the first string quartet to win the Wigmore Hall Medal in May, 2014. The Medal, inaugurated in 2007, recognizes major international artists who have a strong association with the Hall. Recipients so far include Andras Schiff, Thomas Quasthoff, Menachem Pressler and Dame Felicity Lott. Appointed in 2012 as the first-ever Associate Artists at Wigmore, the Takács present six concerts every season there. Other European engagements in 2016-17 include Florence, Milan, Geneva, Amsterdam, and Paris. They will present concerts in Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong and will also tour New Zealand and Australia. A recent tour to South America included concerts in Chile and Brazil.
In 2012, Gramophone announced that the Takács was the only string quartet to be inducted into its first Hall of Fame, along with such legendary artists as Jascha Heifetz, Leonard Bernstein and Dame Janet Baker. The ensemble also won the 2011 Award for Chamber Music and Song presented by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London. Based in Boulder at the University of Colorado, the Takács Quartet performs ninety concerts a year worldwide.
During the 2016-2017 season, the ensemble will perform complete 6-concert Beethoven quartet cycles in London’s Wigmore Hall, at Princeton, the University of Michigan, and at UC Berkeley. In preparation for these cycles, Takács first violinist Edward Dusinberre’s book, called Beethoven for a Later Age: The Journey of a String Quartet, was published in the UK by Faber and Faber and in North America by the University of Chicago Press. The book takes the reader inside the life of a string quartet, melding music history and memoir as it explores the circumstances surrounding the composition of Beethoven’s quartets.
The Takács Quartet performed Philip Roth’s “Everyman” program with Meryl Streep at Princeton in 2014, and again with her at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto in 2015. The program was conceived in close collaboration with Philip Roth. The Quartet is known for such innovative programming. They first performed “Everyman” at Carnegie Hall in 2007 with Philip Seymour Hoffman. They have toured 14 cities with the poet Robert Pinsky, collaborate regularly with the Hungarian Folk group Muzsikas, and in 2010 they collaborated with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and David Lawrence Morse on a drama project that explored the composition of Beethoven’s last quartets.
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 and Chamber Award from BBC Music Magazine, a Gramophone Award, Album of the Year at the Brit Awards and a Japanese Record Academy Award. Their recordings of the early and middle Beethoven quartets collected a Grammy, another Gramophone Award, a Chamber Music of America Award and two further awards from the Japanese Recording Academy. Of their performances and recordings of the Late Quartets, the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote “The Takács might play this repertoire better than any quartet of the past or present.”
In 2006 the Takács Quartet made their first recording for Hyperion Records, of Schubert’s D804 and D810. A disc featuring Brahms’ Piano Quintet with Stephen Hough was released to great acclaim in November 2007 and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy. Brahms’ Quartets Op. 51 and Op. 67, were released in the fall of 2008 and nominated for a Grammy. A disc featuring the Schumann Piano Quintet with Marc-André Hamelin was released in late 2009. The complete Haydn “Apponyi” Quartets, Op. 71 and 74 were subsequently released, followed in 2012 by the Schubert Quintet CD with Ralph Kirshbaum.
The three Britten Quartets were released with great acclaim in 2013, followed by the Brahms Viola Quintets with Lawrence Power, viola, and also nominated for a Grammy, the Shostakovich Piano Quintet with Mr. Hamelin. In 2015 the two Janacek Quartets and Smetana’s “From My Life” was released, and after that, the Debussy Quartet and the Franck Piano Quintet, again with Marc-Andre Hamelin. Next to be released is the Dvorak Op. 105 Quartet and his Viola Quintet Op. 97 with Lawrence Power, viola, and after that, the Dohnanyi Piano Quintet Nos. 1 and 2 plus the Dohnanyi Quartet No. 2.
The Quartet has also made sixteen recordings for the Decca label since 1988 of works by Beethoven, Bartók, Borodin, Brahms, Chausson, Dvořák, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Smetana. The ensemble’s recording of the six Bartók String Quartets received the 1998 GramophoneAward for chamber music and, in 1999, was nominated for a Grammy. In addition to the Beethoven String Quartet cycle recording, the ensemble’s other Decca recordings include Dvořák’s String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 51 and Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81 with pianist Andreas Haefliger; Schubert’s Trout Quintet with Mr.Haefliger, which was nominated in 2000 for a Grammy Award; string quartets by Smetana and Borodin; Schubert’s Quartet in G Major and Notturno Piano Trio with Mr. Haefliger; the three Brahms string quartets and Piano Quintet in F Minor with pianist András Schiff; Chausson’s Concerto for violin, piano and string quartet with violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet; and Mozart’s String Quintets, K515 and 516 with Gyorgy Pauk, viola.
The members of the Takács Quartet are Christoffersen Faculty Fellows at the University of Colorado Boulder and play on instruments generously loaned to them by the Shwayder Foundation. The 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, Santa Barbara. The Takács is a Visiting Quartet at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.
The Takács Quartet was formed in 1975 at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest by Gabor Takács-Nagy, Károly Schranz, Gabor 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 Quartet 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 Order of Merit of the Knight’s Cross of the Republic of Hungary, and in March of 2011 each member of the Quartet was awarded the Order of Merit Commander’s Cross by the President of the Republic of Hungary.