New York, NY: January 8, 2024 — The Grammy Award-winning Takács Quartet, currently in their 49th season and widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest string quartets, bring premiere performances of Flow—a brand-new work by composer and violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama—to cities around the U.S. in February, March and April; the world premiere took place in Berkeley, CA in November. The Wall Street Journal called Flow a “heartfelt string quartet rooted in science [that] was passionately performed between works by Haydn and Beethoven.”
Flow is the cornerstone of a program entitled “The Natural World.” The program opens with Haydn’s “Sunrise” Quartet and closes with Beethoven’s “Razumovsky” Quartet, which found its place on the program due to the report of composer Carl Czerny (a student of the great master) that Beethoven had conceived the slow movement “while contemplating the starry sky and thinking of the music of the spheres.”
“Flow starts like gas seeping from an infinitely full balloon about to pop,” writes Ngwenyama in her program note. “Then, as matter inflates space, climactic material is presented almost immediately before abruptly burning out for the universal dark ages.”
As they embark on the next leg of the tour, the Quartet reflect on the experience so far, saying, “Now that we’ve performed Flow several times, we appreciate even more its theatrical impact. We love how audiences are responding to the beauty, humor, and sense of wonder with which Thula celebrates the natural world.”
Ngwenyama writes in her program note, “When Harumi Rhodes of the celebrated Takács Quartet asked me about writing a piece for the group I was surprised, greatly honored and fearful. The string quartet is considered a “perfect” ensemble…Harumi asked that the quartet be about anything in the natural world…I researched a wide array of subjects for over a year. Topics included the life cycle, carbon reclamation, environmental protection, animal communication, starling murmurations, our last universal common ancestor (LUCA), black hole collisions and the sub-atomic realm. I listened to the recordings of the Takács Quartet with gusto. Systems layered upon other systems revealed a common flow to existence tying us to the initial outburst of energy and matter at the birth of our universe.”
Flow was co-commissioned by: Cal Performances; Portland Friends of Chamber Music; The Broad Stage; Shriver Hall Concert Series; Celebrity Series of Boston; the 92nd Street Y, New York; Philadelphia Chamber Music Society; Capital Region Classical; and UMS, University of Michigan.
“[Flow is]…an engrossing work also sprinkled with scientific allusions to everything from starling to startling: murmurations to black-hole collisions.” — ArtsSF
New Takács Quartet Recordings This Season
The Takács Quartet’s new recording of works by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Dvořák for Hyperion Records has been garnering excellent reviews. Gramophone wrote, “The Takács are impressive on this album: every micro-phrase, every note is considered. Their sound draws you in from the first moment. The opening chords and sinuous lines vibrate and thrill on many levels…” The Quartet’s Hyperion recordings are now available on Spotify.
On March 29th, Hyperion will release the Quartet’s recording of works by Schubert, including his final quartet in G major. Also this spring (2024), the ensemble will perform and record piano quintets by Price and Dvořák with long-time chamber music partner Marc-André Hamelin.
“The Natural World” Tour Dates, 2024
* Indicates Flow Co-commissioning venue
February 11, 2024 / Beaver Creek, CO / Vilar Performing Arts Center
February 16, 2024 / Boston, MA / Celebrity Series of Boston*
March 13, 2024 / New York, NY / The 92nd Street Y, New York (NY Premiere)*
March 15, 2024 / Philadelphia, PA /Philadelphia Chamber Music Society*
March 17, 2024 / Schenectady, NY /Capital Region Classical at Union College Memorial Chapel*
March 22, 2024 / Scottsdale, AZ / Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
March 26, 2024 / Buffalo, NY / Buffalo Chamber Music Society**
April 12, 2024 / Ann Arbor, MI / UMS, University of Michigan*
April 14, 2024 / Rochester, NY / Eastman School of Music
**At the performance in Buffalo, Haydn’s Quartet is replaced by Wolf’s Italian Serenade for String Quartet
The Takács Quartet performing at the Shriver Hall Concert Series on “The Natural World” tour in November 2023. Photo: Emilia Gonzalez
About the Takács Quartet
The Takács Quartet, now in its 49th season, is “one of the world’s greatest string quartets” (The New York Times), consistently receiving enthusiastic critical acclaim for its virtuosic performances, ingenious programming and unsurpassed recordings. The members of the quartet are violinists Edward Dusinberre and Harumi Rhodes, violist Richard O’Neill and cellist András Fejér (the remaining original member).
“These are both powerful, brilliantly imagined interpretations, painted in bold, rich colors and shaped with flashing virtuosity,” wrote Gramophone about the Quartet’s 2023 release of music by Hough, Dutilleux and Ravel, which earned five stars from BBC Music Magazine. Also in 2023, Scherzo magazine in Madrid wrote, “Even with personnel changes, the Takács Quartet remains one of the greatest chamber string ensembles we have on the world stage.”
The Takács Quartet has a large, varied and award-winning discography. In 2021, the Quartet won a Presto Music Recording of the Year Award for their recordings of string quartets by Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, and a Gramophone Award with pianist Garrick Ohlsson for piano quintets by Amy Beach and Elgar. Other releases for Hyperion feature works by Haydn, Schubert, Janáček, Smetana, Debussy and Britten, as well as piano quintets by César Franck and Shostakovich (with Marc-André Hamelin), and viola quintets by Brahms and Dvorák (with Lawrence Power). For the ensemble’s CDs on the Decca/London label, the Quartet has won three Gramophone Awards, a Grammy Award, three Japanese Record Academy Awards, Disc of the Year at the inaugural BBC Music Magazine Awards, and Ensemble Album of the Year at the Classical Brits.
About Nokuthula Ngwenyama
“Mother of Peace” and “Lion” in Zulu, Nokuthula Ngwenyama (No-goo-TOO-lah En-gwen-YAH-ma) has garnered recognition as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and composer. Also known as ‘Thula’ (TOO-lah), her performances provide “solidly shaped music of bold mesmerizing character” (Gramophone). Her music has been performed by leading orchestras, including the Detroit, London and Chicago Symphonies, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic and the Orquesta Nacional de Madrid, among others. Her chamber works have been performed in North America, Africa and Asia.
‘Thula’ gained international prominence winning the Primrose International Viola Competition at age 16. The following year she won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, which led to debuts at the Kennedy Center and the 92nd Street ‘Y.’ As a recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant she has performed as soloist and in recital around the world.
Born in Los Angeles, CA of Zimbabwean-Japanese parentage, Ngwenyama attended the Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences and the Colburn School for the Performing Arts (now the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts) before graduating from the Curtis Institute of Music. As a Fulbright scholar she studied at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and received a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. A voting member of the Recording Academy, Ms. Ngwenyama is the first composer in residence with the Phoenix Chamber Music Society. She resides with her family in Arizona on Tohono O’odham land.