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Published: Friday, 9/17/2004

Quartet's luster has returned


Relationships within string quartets are often compared to those within marriages, only the former are more complex by a factor of two. After all, musicians work and travel together, succeed or fail together. On stage, they breathe together.

Over its 35-year history, personnel shifts in the Tokyo String Quartet have foreshadowed modifications in both sound and repertoire. Now however, with Canadian Martin Beaver settled in as first violinist, the ensemble is close to full circle. The energy and luster of the early years are back.

The Tokyo String Quartet performs music of Mozart, Janacek, and Schumann at 8 tonight in Bowling Green State University's Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center.

"There was an instant bonding. We were well suited to one another in our basic musical outlook," said Beaver last week, remembering his spring of 2002 audition. "Concert goers who have been following the quartet for a long time will hear similarities with other [personnel] configurations, but they will also hear changes," he said.

What to listen for?

"The classic Tokyo Quartet sound is one of energy, intensity, and above all, variety. We strive for tonal palette that explores the far reaches of dynamics and color. That allows us to achieve the most vivid and musical interpretation," said Beaver.

That interpretive focus will receive a thorough showing in tonight's concert, particularly with Janacek's taxing String Quartet No. 1 ("The Kreutzer Sonata"). Written in a span of just eight days in 1923, the piece offers a grisly musical narrative of Tolstoy's great short story of marital infidelity and murder.

"The music goes from one extreme to another very suddenly. It suits our style well," said Beaver.

The Tokyo String Quartet and guest pianist Maxim Mogilevsky present music of Mozart, Janacek, and Schumann at 8 tonight in BGSU's Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Tickets range from $22 to $38. Information: 419-372-8171 or 1-800-589-2224.

Contact Steven Cornelius at:


or 419-724-6152.

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