Haydn, Beethoven and Nokuthula Ngwenyama at New York’s 92NY, Theresa L. Kaufmann Concert Hall on 13 March 2024 


Takács Quartet. Photo: Joseph Sinnott

From the effervescent opening of Haydn’s ‘Sunrise’ Quartet to the closing Presto of Beethoven’s op.59 no.2 – and with a New York City premiere in between – the Takács Quartet brought brilliant, inspired playing to the stage of the 92NY. The quality of Edward Dusinberre’s sound throughout the programme and especially in the Haydn was unforgettable; he led the quartet with elegance and sophistication.

Zimbabwean composer Nokuthula Ngwenyama’s new work Flow followed the Haydn: a musical response to the cycles and patterns of the natural world, portrayed through glissandos, harmonics, tremolos, repeating rhythms, drones and patterns of unisons and then disparity as musical voices came together and then separated again. The Takács brought a playfulness to it but also a depth, and there were some fine individual solos in the final movement.

Beethoven’s Second ‘Rasumovsky’ Quartet closed the programme, given with flawless ensemble and gorgeous colours and textures, particularly in the development of the Allegro. Second violinist Harumi Rhodes’s melodic line in the Molto adagio offered a captivating warmth and generosity, and when paired with the heartbreaking drama of cellist András Fejér’s octaves made for a movement filled with intensity and deep beauty. The rustic earthiness and impressive dynamic contrasts of the Allegretto offered a welcome light-hearted contrast to the slow movement and there was plenty of imagination and vivacity in the finale.