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Takacs Quartet Brightens the Morning

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cooling green awnings made of parachute fabric kept the heat of the sun under control on a bright and clear Sunday morning, as the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre launched its new Brunch Classics series this week. And launched it auspiciously, with an appearance by the justifiably admired Takacs Quartet.

No lightweight repertory for this serious, mature string ensemble--two of its original members (from 1975) still on board--and no lowering of standards for the outdoor setting. The Takacs chose masterpieces by Haydn, Bartok and Beethoven, then delivered them joyfully.

A smidgen more energy, a soupcon more risk-taking, and the level of the playing might have matched what can happen with a first-rate international quartet at 10 o’clock at night. Nonetheless, what one heard, at 10:30 on this morning, when only a few helicopters competed with birdcalls to distract the audience from the playing, was fine enough.

Beautifully executed and laid out, the program closer, Beethoven’s C-major “Rasumovsky” Quartet, showed the four players--violinists Edward Dusinberre and Karoly Schranz, violist Roger Tapping and cellist Andras Fejer--at their mellow and brilliant best. In a succession of stylish high points, the most affecting was the haunting slow movement, all the more touching when you consider that it was being played out of doors and through amplification.

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Bartok’s Fourth Quartet, perhaps the most daunting--for players and listeners alike--of the six, achieved both an immaculate mechanical exterior and a deep emotional connection between ensemble and audience. Still, it lacked a measure of spontaneity, perhaps predictable when the acoustical setting is not ideal.

The program began with Haydn’s Quartet in F, Opus 77, No. 2.


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