Ensemble Music closed out its season with the best of the best, at least when it comes to Bartok: the Grammy-winning Takacs Quartet. The performance, which consisted of Bela Bartok's Second, Fourth and Sixth String Quartets, was altogether satisfying, and a perfect example of how potent and engaging ensemble playing can be.
Watching the group - consisting of Edward Dusinberre first violin, Karoly Schranz second violin, Geraldine Walther viola, and cello Andras Fejer - was mesmerizing. The four came together, as one, with a unified, definitive vision of the music, yet still with four distinct, unique voices that played off and with each other effortlessly.
The three-movement Second String Quartet, written during World War I, began the program, starting us on the musical journey for the night. The work starts off calmly with motion and ends almost meditatively, with a raucous movement in between.
Following was the Fourth String Quartet, which has five movements, with the first and fifth and second and fourth creating layers around the third movement, which functions as the core. Bartok brought out all manner of moods in this work; he didn't shy going from bombastically intense to downright creepy, and how well the quartet brought out his moods! Bartok's inclusion of such effects as glissandi, ponticello (playing as close to the bridge as possible, creating a vastly different tone), and playing with the wood of the bow (col legno) augments those moods.
The quartet ended the evening with the Sixth Quartet, in which each movement is titled mesto, meaning "sad." But music reaches beyond that simple emotion; the quartet dove in to the work, bringing out loneliness, melancholy and grief, all with a remarkable intensity. The evening was breathtaking, and ended an already excellent season on a high note.