UMS Staff Picks: Takács Quartet selected by Liz Stover, Programming Coordinator
By Stephanie NormannTweet
SN: The Takács Quartet has been treating UMS audiences to exceptional performances of chamber works for many years, but in the 10/11 season, there will be not one, but three very special opportunities to hear this quartet as they perform their Schubert Project cycle of concerts. What will be unique and memorable about each of these performances?
LS: It’s not every year that you get to hear so much of a single composer’s work in the span of a season, so I am thrilled for the opportunity to focus some attention on Schubert. While there’s not nearly enough time to hear all of his chamber music, we’ll hear some of my favorites: D.810 (“Death and the Maiden”), the “Trout” Piano Quintet, and the Cello Quintet! We’ve heard the Takács Quartet perform many times here in Ann Arbor (12, to be exact), but I’m also excited to hear them collaborate with other notable musicians: pianist Jeffrey Kahane (who is also music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Colorado Symphony), bassist John Feeney (principal bass of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York), and cellist Paul Katz (who performed here three times as cellist of the Cleveland Quartet).
SN: Have you seen a performance by the Takács Quartet before?
LS: Yes. I saw them the last two times they were here, in March 2010 and April 2009, and I think in January 2007, too. I loved their April 2009 performance with Marc-André Hamelin when they performed the Schumann Piano Quintet. The first time I ever played chamber music for fun was with a piano quintet (though we played Brahms) so I really enjoy hearing that repertoire. It makes me think back to how challenging it was for me and how much I learned as a musician from playing in a small group rather than an orchestra.
SN: What are you most looking forward to about this series of performances?
LS: To begin with, I just love Schubert…his compositions can be so heartbreakingly romantic. Did you hear David Finckel, Wu Han, and Philip Setzer play the piano trios in February? There wasn’t a dull moment in that concert—it was a highlight of the season for me. As I mentioned before, it’s really exciting to hear so much of one composer’s work in one season, and this series of concerts lines up with a personal goal to build my knowledge of classical repertoire. I also share a love for chamber music (and Schubert) with my boyfriend Zack, who is a violist, so I’m looking forward to experiencing the concerts together.
SN: What other events are on your “must see” list for the 10/11 season?
LS: Mahler’s Fifth Symphony is one of the very reasons I work at UMS (hearing it performed by the New York Philharmonic in February 2005 made me instantly apply to become a UMS intern as a student) so I can’t wait to hear it again by the Mariinsky Orchestra. I’m also really excited about our collaboration with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Michigan Opera Theater to present Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. It’s a once-(or very few) in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear it performed and I’m excited to be involved in the production of that event. I’ve also become a huge dance lover over the past few years, so I’m looking forward to seeing all of the companies on our season—all are new to me! I also won’t miss Stew and the Negro Problem, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Druid’s production of The Cripple of Inishmaan.
SN: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
LS: Knitting! Almost two years ago, I began knitting seriously, and I have fallen in love with it! It’s a wonderful stress reliever and I just love the feeling of producing something. I’m currently working on a cardigan. I’ve even taught a few friends and coworkers to knit and it’s so exciting to see them producing beautiful garments. Besides that, I enjoy watching baseball (my boyfriend has turned me into a Red Sox fan), traveling, and spending time with friends and family (including my two dogs, Rumor and Gypsy, who live with my parents in the DC area). I’m also hoping to take my violin out soon and start playing more regularly as it’s been in my closet for the last year—I’m sure these concerts will inspire me to do so!
SN: What have you been listening to on your iPod?
LS: Since we presented Punch Brothers at the Power Center last summer, I have not been able to stop listening to them! Their CDs Punch and Antifogmatic are in very frequent rotation as well as some of their earlier work under Chris Thile’s name. I have also recently taken up spinning at the Y, and Lady Gaga helps me get through a solid hour of exercise. Other favorites include Broken Bells, Dave Matthews Band, Ingrid Michaelson, and Wilco. When it comes to classical music, Mahler and Rachmaninoff are two of my favorite composers, so this season’s repertoire is especially exciting for me!