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Deep explorations

By James Leija

The Takács Quartet. Photo by Ellen Appel.

One of hallmarks of the Takács Quartet’s musical activity over the years has not only been its well-regarded and supreme musical standard but, equally, its ongoing commitment to whole bodies of work through deep explorations of a composer’s artistry and immersive experiences for audiences. Beethoven, Bartók, Kodály, Hungarian folk music origins…we in Ann Arbor are well familiar with this Quartet’s many gifts. And so now, we turn to Franz Schubert.

The Takács Quartet performs 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14 at Rackham Auditorium. For tickets, please visit University Musical Society.

Reflecting on the treasure trove of composers from Vienna, it is often shocking how Schubert can be sidelined among the classical heavyweights of Haydn, Beethoven, and Mozart, and yet Schubert and especially Mozart share so much in common: a city, a tradition, an unparalleled gift for melody, a prolific creativity and, tragically, a too-early demise. Both Mozart and Schubert died in their early thirties. It is so tantalizing to imagine “what could have been” if either of these geniuses had lived even another decade.

The Takács Quartet’s Schubert project moves well beyond a mere quartet concert cycle. It is an exploration of the extreme creativity of Schubert’s mature musical voice heard most acutely in his profoundly personal and intimate small scale scores — string quartets and quintets and solo piano music. With the exception of one early string quartet, all three concerts span the nine years of his adulthood and showcase his outrageous gifts.


Schubert : Quartettsatz in c minor, D. 703

Schubert : Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960 (Op. Poth.) (1828)

Daniel Kellogg : Soft Sleep Shall Contain You: A Meditation on Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” (2010)

Schubert : String Quartet in d minor, D. 810 (“Death and the Maiden”) (1824)