Review: As good as it gets as quartet mesmerises

Takacs String Quartet,

Pump Room, Leamington November 13

Many in Thursday’s audience will remember recent quartet highlights, but Takács was ‘just about as good as it gets’!

Haydn’s ‘Tost’ Opus 64 began a fascinating evening, supremely accomplished. Edward Dusinberre leads with ice-cool intensity, very much at home with a rhythmic propulsion of the opening movement and finale.

Dusinberre repeated the story about the extraordinary opening bars in which the audience at the first performance believed the quartet was not playing the right notes.

Elements of the mysterious opening reappear in the andante and in the fiery and quite startling trio, a highlight of a blistering performance.

Takács opt for a European configuration, placing Geraldine Walther’s viola facing the violins. The astonishing perfect balance was the topic of many animated conversation during the interlude.

Beethoven’s No 13 quartet Opus 130, premièred in 1826, originally consisted of six movements with a final, hugely dramatic Grosse Fugue.

Following the first performance Beethoven was persuaded to substitute this with a different final movement.

So out went the enormous Grosse Fugue to be replaced by an allegro.

As highlights of string quartet concerts in Leamington go, this Takács performance is at the very top of the list. A truly memorable evening!

Rating 10/10

By Clive Peacock