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Gerald Carpenter: Takács Quartet Takes Up Residence at Music Academy

World-renowned ensemble will perform two concerts and lead two masterclasses

The world-renowned Takács Quartet will begin its seventh annual residency Thursday at the Music Academy of the West. While they are here, the quartet — Edward Dusinberre and Károly Schranz on violins, Geraldine Walther on viola and András Fejér on cello — will perform in two concerts and lead two string chamber masterclasses in Lehmann Hall.

The Takács recital will be at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Lobero Theatre, with a program that includes Franz Schubert’s Quartettsatz in C-Minor, Opus Posthumous, D. 703, Bela Bartók’s String Quartet No. 1 in A-Minor, Opus 7 Sz. 40 and Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C#-Minor, Opus 131.

The Takács will also participate in July 26’s “Tuesdays at Eight” in Hahn Hall, in which they will join with academy faculty cellist Alan Stepansky to play Schubert’s String Quintet in C-Major, Opus 163, D. 956. (More about this in a later posting.) The two Takács-led masterclasses, both in Lehmann Hall at Miraflores, will take place at 3:15 p.m. Friday and 3:15 p.m. Thursday, July 28.

Schubert’s Quartettsatz — sometimes known, rather grandly, as the String Quartet No. 12 in C-Minor, D. 703 — is a delightful bauble of a little more than six minutes in duration. He began it in 1820, intending it as a full-length quartet, but never got around to finishing it. He produced some 40 bars of an Andante, but the various attempts at completing even this movement have been denounced as “unconvincing” by the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and so far their verdict stands. As with most Schubert works, the piece renders analysis totally irrelevant.

Bartók’s string quartets are often claimed to be the only legitimate successors to Beethoven’s Late Quartets, and the First Quartet, written in 1909, is Exhibit A. Indeed, it would not surprise me that the Takács built this program around the often remarked upon similarity between the first movement of the Bartok No. 1 and that of the Beethoven Opus 131, which follows the intermission. As Schubert’s place on the program, let us say he owes it to a remark he allegedly made after listening to Beethoven’s C#-Minor Quartet: “After this, what is left for us to write?”

Well, this Beethoven does kind of have that effect on the listener. Not only does it seem to leave a composer with very little to write, it ought to leave a musicologist mute as well (though, of course, musicologists are generally made of sterner stuff than composers, and have by now spent millions of words upon this one work). And audiences have been known to be so shattered they forgot to applaud. Written in the last year of Beethoven’s life, the Opus 131 is reputed to be Beethoven’s favorite among his last works, though he can have only heard it in his head.

Tickets for the Lobero performance are $40 and can be purchased at the Lobero box office at 33 E. Canon Perdido St. or 805.963.0761, or click here.

Tickets for the masterclasses are $13, or $12 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or click here or call 805.969.8787.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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