By Wes Blomster
Camera Classical Music Writer

The Takács Quartet, resident ensemble at the University of Colorado since 1983, has been awarded the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.

The award, made by Hungarian President Lászl Slyom, was announced by H. E. György Szapáry, Ambassador of the Republic of Hungary to the United States on March 15, Hungary's national holiday.

The richly decorated emblem will be presented to each Takács member at a concert at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

From CU's College of Music Website

CU-Boulder's Quartet-in-Residence, the Takács Quartet, has won the prestigious 2011 Royal Philharmonic Award in the Best Chamber Music & Song category.

The RPS Music Awards are the highest recognition for live classical music-making in the United Kingdom. These independent awards were set up in 1989 to celebrate the outstanding musical achievements of both young and established, British and International, musicians. In 2003, BBC Radio 3 became media partners, introducing the Radio 3 Listeners Award and devoting an evening-long programme to the RPS Music Awards. The Royal Philharmonic Society (founded in 1813) is dedicated to creating a future for music. It is one of the world's oldest music societies and has a thriving membership. It is also a registered UK Charity.

The Guardian
By Edward Dusinberre

Beethoven's three "Razumovsky" string quartets left both their first performers and the public shocked and suspicious. The violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh, whose quartet premiered the Opus 59 works, complained they were unreasonably difficult. After playing the opening solo from the second movement of the first of the three quartets, cellist Bernhard Romberg threw his music to the ground and stamped on it. What sort of sorry substitute for a tune was this? How insulting to give a cellist of his stature such a banal rhythm, the sort of thing anyone could tap out with a pencil! Meanwhile, the violinist Felix Radicati is said to have complained these were "not music".

"They are not for you, but for a later age," Beethoven told his critics.

Commissioned in 1802 by Count Razumovsky to write three new quartets, Beethoven surprised his Russian patron by presenting him with lengthy compositions that express intense, shifting emotions. Imagine the scene: the guests at Count Razumovsky's new Viennese palace, after a sumptuous meal, pause on the terrace to look down over the Danube and spires of Vienna; they adjourn to an elaborate concert hall to listen to these brand new works. But the opening music of Opus 59 No 2 is hardly an aid to digestion: two loud chords followed by a bar's silence. A few bars of breathless, mysterious music and another silence. It was like nothing they had heard before. The complicated rhythms and dialogue between the different parts must have perplexed anyone encountering them for the first time. Schuppanzigh had good reason to feel worried about the music – exposed runs and leaps that cover the whole range of the violin with alarming velocity.

Boston Globe
By David Weininger
Globe Correspondent / February 18, 2011

A Masterpiece is Influential but Ill-Loved

Woody Allen’s 1989 film “Crimes and Misdemeanors’’ centers in part around the moral consequences of a woman’s murder, arranged by her former lover. In the scene where we first glimpse her assassin, a string quartet is heard playing a G-major chord. At first gentle and reassuring, the sound grows louder and more unnerving. Finally it explodes into a slashing fragment in sinister G minor. A pause, and the sequence is repeated on the note D. As the killer shadows his victim, a stark, simple melody emerges in the first violin, while the other three instruments produce a shivering, buzzing sound beneath. The whole musical passage uncannily mirrors the tension of the fateful act about to unfold.

That music comes from the opening of Schubert’s String Quartet in G major, the composer’s 15th and final work in the genre. Written in a mere 10 days, it is a stunningly original piece, even by the high standards created by the rest of Schubert’s late music. Even more than other highlights of this period — the song cycle “Die Winterreise,’’ the last three piano sonatas, the “Great’’ C-major Symphony and the String Quintet — the G-major Quartet synthesizes the lessons of his predecessors and opens a gateway to the future. The great 20th-century Hungarian composer György Ligeti once called the piece “a crucial influence on my current style.’’

The Times – London
By Emma Pomfret

Face to face with the Takács Quartet, I’m desperately trying to remember who’s who. There’s the serious one, Edward Dusinberre, first violin, who leads the music and the conversation. The joker: Károly Schranz, second violin, and the pithy one: András Fejér (cello). The Hungarian duo are the two remaining founder members. Finally, there’s the gushy one, Geraldine Walther, viola.

These four very distinct personalities have fused into the world’s greatest string quartet. And next week, at the Southbank Centre in London, where they are associate artists, they will embark on the ultimate musical journey, performing every one of Beethoven’s 18 quartets; all nine glorious hours of them.

Thirty-five years into their career, the Takács have played each of these quartets over and over. Their recordings of the works have won Grammys and Gramophone awards. But nobody is jaded; nothing can disguise the group’s hunger to try again. “Beethoven is the only composer who is always an adventure to play,” Schranz says. “You can play many times and it’s never boring. The guy is just leading us.”

© 2020 Takács Quartet