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String quartet veteran: Grow older, play smarter

String quartet veteran: Grow older, play smarter
String quartet veteran: Grow older, play smarter

The violinist Edward Dusinberre, leader of the renowned Takacs Quartet, has some fascinating tips for Ariane Todes on playing tough stuff when the body says, take it easy.

ED: You can’t be in a string quartet for more than three decades and not learn flexibility. When I joined, I had to make a strong statement and be on top of the sound. People were looking at me to see if I could sit in that chair. I’m not complacent because that’s never good, but I don’t worry in the same way now. I’m more interested in how I can emerge in the sound and then retreat, and how can my sound facilitate the sound of other people, or draw the attention of the ears away from me to someone else. Those weren’t much on my mind when I was 28.

AT: What are the physical differences of performing as you get older?

ED: In the past we did a couple of Bartók cycles in a day, and I wouldn’t do that again now. It’s not so much that I couldn’t get through it, but I don’t have the interest in it. I don’t want to jump through that particular sort of Olympics, whereas many years ago, it felt like a fun challenge. As you grow older, you have to get smarter and more efficient in the way you play.

With the Schubert G major Quartet I got to a stage about 15 years ago where I found it hard to play. It’s so demanding that while I was happy to play it once off, I didn’t want to tour with it because it was too much maintenance and too taxing on the system. But in this formation of the Takács, the new conversations and interplay of musical ideas have caused me to change my mind. I find the piece easier to play and manage physically now than I did back then. I still wouldn’t necessarily play it ten nights in a row, but I never thought we’d record it again and doing so has been a real joy. I’ve come out the other side of the recording not feeling too sore….

Read on here.

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