After 43 seasons, the Tokyo String Quartet announced that 2012-2013 would be their last. Their last concert took place in Norfolk, Ct., on July 6th, 2013.
Regarded as one of the supreme chamber ensembles of the world, the Tokyo Quartet–Martin Beaver and Kikuei Ikeda (violins), Kazuhide Isomura (viola) and Clive Greensmith (cello)–has collaborated with a remarkable array of artists and composers, built a comprehensive catalogue of critically acclaimed recordings and established a distinguished teaching record. Performing over a hundred concerts worldwide each season, the quartet has a devoted international following across the globe.
For the Tokyo’s farewell season, preparations were made in every hall to properly celebrate what has been, for audiences in the U.S. and abroad, an extended love affair with the quartet. Many venues have presented the Tokyo since the early days “when four young musicians took the classical music world by storm.”
North American tours included cities such as San Francisco, Raleigh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tulsa, Miami, Kalamazoo, Seattle, Portland and Philadelphia, and Canadian venues in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Kelowna, Montreal and Edmonton.
For their final season in Europe, the Tokyo Quartet toured international cities such as Vienna, Copenhagen, London, Amsterdam, Zurich, Paris and Rome as well as Moscow and Warsaw. They performed the Schubert Cello Quintet with Gary Hoffman in Madrid and with David Watkin in Florence; the Brahms Piano Quintet with Javier Perianes in Spain; and the Mozart String Quintet with violist Gil Sharon in The Netherlands.
Nippon Music Foundation hosted the quartet in Encounter with Stradivari 2012, featuring 10 Stradivaris in concert at Fukuoka Symphony Hall, Hyogo Performing Arts Center and Suntory Hall. The “Farewell Tour” in Japan took place in May, 2013, with concerts in Musashino, Tokyo’s Oji Hall and Tokyo Opera City. This was followed by an extensive tour of Australia and New Zealand with presenters Musica Viva and Chamber Music New Zealand.
The members of the Tokyo Quartet had served on the faculty of the Yale School of Music as quartet-in-residence since 1976. Deeply committed to coaching young string quartets, they conducted master classes in North America, Europe and the Far East.
The Tokyo String Quartet has released more than 40 landmark 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.
Last season, the ensemble’s exclusive Harmonia Mundi label produced Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major with cellist David Watkin, which was named an "Outstanding” Recording by the International Record Review. For the Tokyo’s final season, Harmonia Mundi released Brahms’ beloved piano and clarinet quintets performed with Jon Nakamatsu and Jon Manasse, and in May 2013 released a disc featuring Czech composers Dvorák and Smetana.
The ensemble performed for 18 years on the "Paganini Quartet", a group of renowned Stradivarius instruments named for legendary virtuoso Niccolí² Paganini, who acquired and played them during the 19th century. The instruments, recently returned on the dissolution of the quartet, had been on loan to the quartet from the Nippon Music Foundation since 1995, when they were purchased from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Officially formed in 1969 at the Juilliard School of Music, the Tokyo Quartet traces its origins to the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, where the founding members were profoundly influenced by Professor Hideo Saito. Soon after its formation, the quartet won First Prize at the Coleman Competition, the Munich Competition and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions. An exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon firmly established it as one of the world's leading quartets.