Wednesday, November 30, 2011

a remarkable phenomenon

One day in 1995, I had my radio tuned to the classical FM station. A string quartet began playing -- a CD selection from the Takács String Quartet's recording of Haydn's Op. 76 string quartets. I will never forget the impression made on me, not only the brilliant music but also the unique sound of these four players.

This was before I had a computer and access to online ordering of CDs. My local record store didn't have this CD. So I phoned my mother, who lived in the Kansas City area. She went to several stores trying to find this CD for me. Alas, it turned out that this CD from 1990 was out-of-print:

I came across this the other day, about a new traversal of Haydn's quartets by the Takács:

Haydn from The Rest is Noise

What strikes me as remarkable is that, despite the passage of over 20 years and the replacement of the first violinist, this ensemble's sound has remained basically unchanged. It's unique overall timbre remains intact and distinctive. No other string quartet sounds like them.

There is a largeness to the sound. And the first violin still has that slight nasal quality, which is so damn wonderful -- a quality that is almost a color, like rich mahogany.

Haydn was a pure genius of string quartet writing. He took the existing nascent form and shaped it into profound expressions.

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