When the sole remaining founder of the Tokyo String Quartet, Kazuhide Isomura, announced his intention to retire along with second violinist, Kikuei Ikeda, the two remaining players began to accept auditions to fill those spots.
This is not a unique situation, as string quartets tend to become brands. Over time, as players are replaced, sometimes the only thing remaining of the original quartet is the name.
Over the course of several months the two remaining players, first violinist Martin Beaver and the cellist Clive Greensmith, called the search off and decided to retire the ensemble completely.
The final performance by the Tokyo Quartet was this last July at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.
The quartet frequently performed at the La Jolla Music Society Summerfest.
Formed at Juilliard in 1969, the quartet has had five first violinists, two second violinists, one violist, and two cellists over its 44 year history.
There is a rich legacy of recordings which testify to the greatness of the Tokyo String Quartet. They recorded on Deutsche Grammophone, RCA Victor, Harmonia Mundi, and others. The quartet received several awards for their recordings including seven Grammy nominations.
I’ll never forget the performance they gave of Beethoven’s Opus 131 at Sherwood in the summer of 2011.