Just in: Tokyo Quartet loses its Japanese players

Just in: Tokyo Quartet loses its Japanese players


norman lebrecht

November 01, 2011

It has been announced that Kikuei Ikeda, violin and Kazuhide Isomura, viola, are to retire from the string quartet oin June 2013, leaving violinist Martin Beaver and cellist Clive Greensmith looking for new partners. End of an era.








            NEW YORK, NY, November 1, 2011 – The Tokyo String Quartet, one of the world’s most distinguished chamber music ensembles, today announced that violist, Kazuhide Isomura, and second violinist, Kikuei Ikeda, will retire from the Tokyo Quartet in June 2013.  Current members of the quartet, violinist Martin Beaver and cellist Clive Greensmith are in the process of playing with potential new members, which the quartet will announce in the spring of 2012.  Mr. Isomura, who has been a member of the group since its inception in 1969, and Mr. Ikeda, who joined in 1974, will continue to perform and teach with the quartet through the 2012-13 season. The new violinist and violist will join Mr. Beaver and Mr. Greensmith in the summer of 2013. Both Mr. Ikeda and Mr. Isomura plan to perform and coach chamber music after stepping down from the quartet.

            “We are immensely proud of our colleagues Kazuhide Isomura and Kikuei Ikeda and feel a deep sense of gratitude for their long standing passion, vision and commitment to the Tokyo String Quartet,” commented Martin Beaver and Clive Greensmith. “Our lives have been made all the richer and immeasurably enhanced by their tireless devotion. Their collegiality, professionalism and love of music will be sorely missed.  We feel not only a great sense of duty but also tremendous excitement and anticipation as we continue our quest to convey the greatness of the quartet literature with renewed vigor and passion.”

            Violist Kazuhide Isomura said, “As a founding member of the ensemble, I have performed with the Tokyo String Quartet for more than 40 years, which has been fascinating, intense and very satisfying. Forming and playing in a string quartet had always been my dream, and I thought I would continue to perform this wonderful repertoire for the rest of my life. Quite recently, I began to realize that I could not do this forever. Frequent travel has become one of the more difficult aspects of our work. Following my time with the quartet, I look forward to a freer lifestyle, but I will continue to teach chamber music and viola with much passion, as well as perform in a select number of concerts. I have faith that Martin Beaver, Clive Greensmith and the new members of the Tokyo String Quartet will be very successful and continue to perform great chamber music together.”

            Second violinist Kikuei Ikeda added, “I would like to thank my colleagues and our audiences for their wonderful support over the past 37 years. I have always loved chamber music and I will continue to teach and perform through the next phase of my career.”

            The Tokyo String Quartet has captivated audiences and critics alike since it was founded 42 years ago. Regarded as one of the supreme chamber ensembles of the world, the Tokyo Quartet has collaborated with a remarkable array of artists and composers, built a comprehensive catalogue of critically acclaimed recordings and established a distinguished teaching record.

            The members of the Tokyo Quartet have served on the faculty of the Yale School of Music as quartet-in-residence since 1976. Deeply committed to coaching young string quartets, they devote much of the summer to teaching and performing at the prestigious Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. The Jasper, Linden, Miró, Parker, Shanghai and Ying Quartets are among the many currently active professional ensembles that have studied with the Tokyo Quartet at Norfolk over the years.  Also currently in residence at New York’s 92nd Street Y, the quartet recently launched a two-season project performing quartets by the ground-breaking composer Bela Bartók alongside those of Haydn, the “father” of the string quartet.            

            The quartet has released more than 40 recordings on Harmonia Mundi, BMG/RCA Victor Red Seal, Angel-EMI, CBS Masterworks, Deutsche Grammophon and Vox Cum Laude, including the complete quartets of Beethoven, Schubert and Bartók. The quartet’s recordings of Brahms, Debussy, Dvorák, Haydn, Mozart, Ravel and Schubert have earned such honors 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. Recent recordings under the exclusive Harmonia Mundi label have been highly praised; the four sets of discs comprising the Beethoven cycle have garnered such accolades as “Outstanding Recording” by the International Record Review and the French critics’ “Diapason d’Or”.  A new recording of the Schubert String Quintet in C Major with cellist David Watkin will be released in November 2011.

            For biographical information and the Tokyo Quartet’s schedule visit www.tokyoquartet.com.