After watching their fine performance at Jordan Hall in February, I marveled at the Tokyo String Quartet’s magical musicianship. Not only does each of the four performers play with command and complete control of their instruments, but they play with sensitivity as well.
The ensemble opened the concert with an early Haydn quartet (Opus 20, No. 2), which was played in a delightfully spirited manner. The heart of the concert followed, with Benjamin Britten’s Quartet No. 2, a complex but startling work written in response to World War II. The piece was introduced by Peter Oundjian, the group’s first violinist, who informed the audience that at last he, being British, had convinced his otherwise Asian ensemble to perform this British work.
After intermission, Beethoven’s Quartet No. 7 closed the concert, and proving themselves to be true professionals, the group performed the challenging work without a flaw. The tempos did feel a little fast throughout the first and last movements, but the players worked hard to stay in control.
The group worked as a unit in complete sync, listening and playing with each other throughout even the most difficult passages. They also demonstrated their enjoyment of the music they played during their two encores, smiling and moving with the music. One of the finest ensembles in the world, the Tokyo Quartet played beyond all expectations, demonstrating what true musicianship means. n