"Three and a half stars
Indiana History Center; Oct. 3
The 30-year-old Takács String Quartet followed the 30-year-old KLR Trio by only two weeks in the Ensemble Music Society’s chamber series by appearing last Wednesday. This fully mature quartet was every bit the equal of the earlier appearing piano trio, offering quartets by Haydn, Janácek and Brahms — starting with one of Haydn’s finest: his Op. 74, No. 1 in C. Written at the time of his London visits in the early 1790s, the quartet sparkles with a warm, lyric glow overlaying masterfully complex ideas. Fortunately, the Takács players did more with it than the typical use of Haydn as a warm-up vehicle for quartet concerts. Excellent ensemble work accompanied a lively, nicely nuanced reading. Janácek’s late-written Quartet No. 2 (“Intimate Letters”) came next, its four movements containing some of the Czech composer’s best writing. It features ponticello bowing (on the bridge and giving a sinister sound) at its start and end, and exudes a nice balance between a Romantic and a modern style. The Takács players ended their program with Brahms’ discursive Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51 No. 1, doing the best they could with well-crafted material in search of a theme. The Haydn should have been saved till last.