Takács Quartet/Hough – review

Wigmore Hall, London

The Wigmore Hall is celebrating its 110th birthday this week with a pair of gala concerts. For the exact anniversary of the first concert there, the recipe was simple: invite the greatest string quartet of the present day together with Britain's leading pianist, and ask them to play together. This was not, though, one of those ad hoc arrangements so common in concerts of this kind, when the performers meet for the first time just hours before the concert. The Takács Quartet and Stephen Hough share a CD label, and have appeared in concert and recorded together before.

That was in the Brahms piano quintet, but here they played Dvor˘ák – his Op 81 Piano Quintet, with Hough leading the way in a performance that simply took the music for what it is, elegant, genial and never too profound, and then polished it until it sparkled. The first movement was driven to such a tremendous climax it provoked spontaneous applause from the usually impeccable Wigmore audience (perhaps too a by product of the celebratory food and drink on offer in the interval). And, if the second-movement dumka didn't have a great deal of rustic character, it had oodles of expressive refinements, while Hough's diamond-sharp articulation constantly lit up the furiant scherzo and the finale.

The Takács had the first half of the concert to themselves, but sounded a bit below their usual extraordinary standards. At first it seemed as if it was Haydn's D Major Quartet Op 71 No 2, not the most charismatic of his quartets, that had failed to engage them, but even Beethoven's Op 135 was not projected with quite the usual authority or vision.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Takács Quartet – review
At their Pittville Pump Room recital, the Takács Quartet balanced works by Haydn and Dvořák of such genial disposition as to make the world seem a better place, writes Rian Evans

Rian Evans

26, Jan, 2012 @6:50 PM

Takács Quartet – review
Every shivering tremolando was judged exactly, every teeming texture perfectly weighted in this magnificent musical span, writes Andrew Clements

Andrew Clements

19, Oct, 2011 @6:20 PM

Takács Quartet – review

From the first five chords of Haydn, the audience knew they were about to experience one of the wonders of the musical world, writes Andrew Clements

Andrew Clements

26, Jan, 2011 @6:51 PM

Takács Quartet - review
This is raw, traumatic personal music, and here the Takács went for broke in a performance of wrenching intensity, writes Martin Kettle

Martin Kettle

12, Nov, 2010 @10:30 PM

Live classical review: Martin Kettle on the Takács Quartet

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
This foursome were elegant as always. Shame the auditorium was barely half full, writes Martin Kettle

Martin Kettle

23, Jan, 2009 @3:08 AM

Takács Quartet | Classical review
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
Continuing their Beethoven cycle, the Takács' combination of preparation and spontaneity was astonishing, writes Andrew Clements

Andrew Clements

28, Jan, 2010 @9:45 PM

Power/Owen/Takács Quartet – review

Quartet playing doesn't get much better than when the Takács hit their stride, writes Martin Kettle

Martin Kettle

24, Feb, 2013 @5:15 PM

Takács Quartet/Cooper/Mitchell - review

Every time one is blown away by the rightness and freshness of everything the Takács Quartet do, writes Guy Dammann

Guy Dammann

22, May, 2011 @3:54 PM

Article image
Takács Quartet/Mitchell review

The Takács found heart in Janáček and poise in Dvořák, writes Erica Jeal

Erica Jeal

26, Feb, 2014 @6:01 PM

Hough/Endellion Quartet – review

Stephen Hough's powerful all-English lineup spoke to a different side of the national character on the Jubilee weekend, writes Martin Kettle

Martin Kettle

07, Jun, 2012 @5:15 PM