The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Famed Tokyo String Quartet is losing two veterans, but will replace them this spring.

November 3, 2011
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

The news comes out periodically and in fits and starts, but it seems clear that the chamber music world – and specifically string quartets – are crossing some kind of generational dividing line.

Sometimes it has to do with injuries; sometimes, with aging, retirement or death; sometimes, with a career change, such as teaching full-time or taking an orchestra position as a principal; sometimes simply with the toll that rehearsing, touring and performing take.

I recall that the long-lived Guarneri Quartet, Arthur Rubinstein’s favorite, has retired and disbanded, as has the Cleveland Quartet.

I recall that the equally storied  and even historic Juilliard String Quartet (below, in a photo by Vanessa Briceno-Scherzer) has replaced members, but still continues to perform.

I recall the famed Takacs Quartet has replaced some members, and that the UW-Milwaukee‘s Fine Arts Quartet lost first its violist and then its cellist and has replaced the two.

I recall that the even the comparatively young Jerusalem Quartet had to replace its violist to the Berlin Philharmonic.

Of the fabled and old quartets, only the acclaimed and award-winning Emerson Quartet (below) seems to have survived intact, even thought hey have changed recorded labels after 35 years, from Deutsche Grammophon to Sony.

Now news comes that the venerable, veteran and acclaimed Tokyo String Quartet (below), which started at Juilliard and has stayed affiliated with Yale University, and which has undergone other previous changes of personnel, is losing and replacing two members.

It is all enough to further deepen one’s appreciation of the UW’s Pro Arte Quartet, which is celebrating 100 years this season. (The next free concert is on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 8  p.m. in Mills Hall and features Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 4, the world premiere of Paul Schoenfield’s “Three Rhapsodies for String Quartet” and Beethoven’s String Quartet in C-sharp  minor, Op. 131.)

Which string quartet, one wonders, is next for personnel changes?

Are there any quartet changes I am missing? Please let me know.

In the mean time, here is a link to a story about the Tokyo Quartet (below):

I love the Tokyo’s sound and approach. And it is impressive that they recorded almost everything major in the repertoire, including two separate sets of Beethoven’s cycle of 16 quartets, and which completed its most recent one (for Harmonia Mundi, below) just last year.

Here are some more links with information?

Did you ever hear the Tokyo and what did you think?

Do you have a favorite string quartet?

Which one and why?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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