Tokyo String Quartet
Martin Beaver - Violin
Kikuei Ikeda - Violin
Kazuhide Isomura - Viola
Clive Greensmith – Violoncello
The Tokyo String Quartet has captivated audiences and critics alike since it was founded almost 35 years ago. Regarded as one of the supreme chamber music ensembles of the world, the Quartet is comprised of violist Kazuhide Isomura, a founding member of the group, second violinist Kikuei Ikeda, who has been a member of the quartet since 1974 and — since 1999 — cellist Clive Greensmith. In 2002 first violinist Martin Beaver joined the ensemble, which has since been playing in the new formation to high acclaim with critics emphasising the "beautifully burnished sound, impeccable ensemble and delicately modulated balances" (New York Times).
In December 2003 the Tokyo String Quartet will return to London's Wigmore Hall with an emblematic programme contrasting the traditional quartet repertoire of Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert with 20th century music. During the season 2003-2004 concert programmes in the most prestigious concert halls in the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Spain, France and Switzerland will continue this combination of classical quartets with works by Debussy, Janacek, Takemitsu, Webern and Zemlinsky. The second half of 2004 will take the Tokyo String Quartet to the Schubertiade chamber music festival in August, on an autumn tour in Japan and to concerts in Munich, Cologne and Berlin.
Last season saw performances at New York's Carnegie Hall and as the resident quartet at New York's Tisch Center for the Arts as well as extensive touring through the U.S. and Canada. Internationally, the Quartet appeared in Milan, Paris, Amsterdam, Beijing, Sydney, Istanbul, Lisbon, Valencia, Madrid, London, Ljubljana, Berlin and Dijon.
In 2001 the Tokyo String Quartet had embarked on an ambitious project of performances of the complete string quartets and other chamber works of Brahms interspersed with four new pieces commissioned by the Quartet. The premiere of each other new piece took place in the native country of its composer: Joan Tower (United States), José Luis Turina (Spain), Fabio Vacchi (Italy), and Hikaru Hayashi (Japan).
The Tokyo String Quartet has released more than thirty landmark recordings including the complete quartets of Beethoven, Schubert, and Bartók. The Quartet's recording of Brahms, Debussy, Dvorák, Haydn, Mozart, Ravel and Schubert have earned such honours as the "Grand Prix du Disque Montreux", "Best Chamber Music recording of the Year" awards from both Stereo Review and Gramophone magazines, and seven Grammy nominations. The quartet is currently recording Mozarts King of Prussia string quartets for Biddulph, two of which they have never recorded before. This recording will be the first of the new formation. The CD will be released in spring 2005.
Since 1976 the Tokyo String Quartet has served at Yale School of Music as quartet-in-residence. Deeply committed to teaching young string quartets, the members of the quartet devote a considerable amount of time at Yale during the academic year. They also regularly hold masterclasses throughout North America and Europe. In addition, they have been quartet-in-residence at the Toho Gakuen School of Music every year since 2001.
The Quartet performs on "The Paganini Quartet", a group of renowned Stradivarius instruments named for legendary virtuoso Niccolo Paganini, who acquired and played them during the 19th century. The instruments have been on loan to the ensemble by the Nippon Music Foundation since 1995.