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Tokyo String Quartet

Biography

Active: 1969 - ; Tokyo, Japan
Shortly after its inception, the Tokyo Quartet became one of the most prominent string quartets in the world; since then, they have continued to uphold their reputation for insightful interpretations and a beautiful tonal blend. The quartet's original members -- Koichiro Harada (first violin), Yoshiko Nakura (second violin), Kazuhide Isomura (viola), and Sadao Harada (cello) -- all attened the Toho Gakuen (School of Music) during the 1960s, Read more coming under the tutelage of the legendarily skilled and tyrannical pedagogue Hideo Saito. Another influence on the Tokyo's early development -- perhaps even more important -- was the Julliard Quartet, which gave a series of workshops at Nikko during 1966; Harada, Isomura and Harada were all in attendance. It was, in fact, the members of the Julliard Quartet who pointed out to the young players that there was then no permanent quartet in Japan, and that they might be the right musicians to form one. This led to arrangements for the group to study at the Julliard School of Music; there the Tokyo Quartet was born.

The quartet was at first a casual endeavor -- a "study quartet" -- but it got serious quickly. In 1970, the Tokyo won the Coleman String Quartet Competition (judged by the members of the Amadeus Quartet), the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and the Munich International Chamber Music Competition. From Munich, the quartet received a guarantee of a hundred concerts and an instant contract with Deutsche Grammophon; soon, the quartet had concertized around the world and won a Grand Prix du Disque. In 1974 the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. lent them a group of priceless Amati instruments; they used these in concert until 1988.

Also in 1974, Kikuei Ikeda replaced Nakura as second violinist, making the quartet all-male; the quartet said at the time that Nakura wished to pursue a solo career, but in a 1975 interview with the Associated Press, Julliard's Robert Mann said, "They always had it in mind to get rid of their girl player." In 1981 there was a further -- and more surprising -- shift in personnel when the departing Koichiro Harada was replaced with the group's first non-Japanese member, the Canadian-English-Armenian violinist Peter Oundjian. The quartet's playing, if anything, improved with Oundjian as leader; interpretations were freer and more passionate, while the playing maintained its beautiful blend. This happy association ended in 1996 when a hand injury prompted Oundjian's replacement -- temporarily at first by the Orford String Quartet's first violinist, Andrew Dawes, and then permanently (1997) by the Borodin Quartet's Mikhail Kopelman. In 2000, Sadao Harada was replaced by Clive Greensmith, former principal cellist of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, making the Tokyo quartet truly international in membership. Martin Beaver joined the quartet as first violinist in 2002.

Tokyo's interpretations are primarily distinguished by their determination to serve the music, rather than to display virtuosity. Their tone has shifted somewhat with the changes in personnel, but the quartet has always managed to make the adjustment successfully without sacrificing the quality of their blend. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 43 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Beethoven:  Complete String Quartets / Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807641 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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  • 2.
    Brahms: Complete Edition
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94860 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 58
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Cécile Ousset,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Emmy Verhey  ... 
    Conductor:  Jaap Van Zweden,  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos,  Günther Herbig,  Heinz Bongartz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra,  Radio Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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    CD: $128.99
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  • 3.
    The Tokyo String Quartet Plays Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 975782 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Peter Oundjian,  Kazuhide Isomura,  Kikuei Ikeda,  Sadao Harada  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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    CD: $17.99
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  • 4.
    Brahms: Complete Chamber Music
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94381 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Derek Han,  Isabelle Faust,  Bruno Giuranna,  Alain Meunier  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brandis String Quartet,  Tokyo String Quartet,  Nash Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $48.99
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  • 5.
    Dvorak: String Quartet No 12; Smetana: String Quartet No 1 / Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807429 Release Date: 05/14/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Bedrich Smetana
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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  • 6.
    Quartet Recital 1971 - Berg, Beethoven, Bartok / Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93723 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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  • 7.
    Brahms: Quintets, Op. 34 & 115 / Manasse, Nakamatsu, Tokyo Quartet
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807558 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Jon Manasse,  Jon Nakamatsu
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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  • 8.
    Stravinsky: The Firebird, Les Noces, Symphony In C, Etc. / Neumann,  Czech Philharmonic, Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350057 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Conductor:  Václav Neumann,  Christoph von Dohnányi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Tokyo String Quartet,  Prague Radio Choir  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $32.98
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  • 9.
    The Claude Debussy Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 193179 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Ann Murray,  Nathalie Stutzmann,  Leslie Caron  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Boulez,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 10.
    Schubert: String Quintet, Quartettsatz / David Watkin, Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807427 Release Date: 11/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  David Watkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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  • 11.
    Lumieres - Music Of The Enlightenment [30-CD Set]
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908601 Release Date: 10/01/2011   Number of Discs: 30
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Kobie van Rensburg,  Véronique Gens,  Patrizia Ciofi,  Marie McLaughlin  ... 
    Conductor:  René Jacobs,  William Christie,  Daniel Reuss,  Philippe Herreweghe  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Cologne,  Cologne Collegium Vocale,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $74.98
    CD: $59.99
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  • 12.
    Beethoven: Late String Quartets / Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807481 Release Date: 10/12/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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  • 13.
    Brahms: Clarinet Quintet, Etc / Lluna, Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 1957048 Release Date: 03/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Joan Enric Lluna,  Lluís Claret,  Josep Colom
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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  • 14.
    Beethoven: String Quartets / Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 68038 Release Date: 08/13/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Peter Oundjian,  Kikuei Ikeda,  Kazuhide Isomura,  Sadao Harada
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 15.
    Impressions - Debussy, Ravel / Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 62552 Release Date: 05/08/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Sadao Harada,  Kazuhide Isomura,  Peter Oundjian,  Kikuei Ikeda  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 16.
    Beethoven: String Quartets Op 74 & 95 / Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807460 Release Date: 01/13/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Kazuhide Isomura,  Clive Greensmith,  Kikuei Ikeda,  Martin Beaver
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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    On sale! $23.98
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  • 17.
    Schubert: Quartets Nos 14 & 4 / Tokyo Quartet
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 7990 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Kikuei Ikeda,  Kazuhide Isomura,  Sadao Harada,  Peter Oundjian
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 18.
    Haydn: Prussian String Quartets / Tokyo Quartet
    Label: Dg Galleria   Catalog: 423509 Release Date: 12/10/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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  • 19.
    Beethoven: String Quartets Op. 18 No 1-6 / Tokyo Sq
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907436 Release Date: 11/13/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
    Recommendation
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  • 20.
    Dvorák: Piano Quintet, American Quartet / Nakamura, Tokyo Quartet
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 5160 Release Date: 08/29/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
    Performer:  Hiroko Nakamura
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 21.
    Boccherini: Quintets Nos 4 And 6, Etc / Yamashita, Tokyo Qt
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 60421 Release Date: 06/01/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Luigi Boccherini,  Dennis Edmonton,  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
    Performer:  Kazuhito Yamashita
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 22.
    Beethoven:
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807423 Release Date: 01/10/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
    On sale! $23.98
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  • 23.
    6th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
    Label: Van Cliburn   Catalog: 4 Release Date: 11/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Various
    Performer:  Jeffrey Kahane,  Andre-Michel Schub,  Christopher O'Riley
    Conductor:  Leon Fleisher
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra,  Tokyo String Quartet
    On sale! $40.98
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  • 24.
    7th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
    Label: Van Cliburn   Catalog: 3 Release Date: 11/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Various
    Performer:  Barry Douglas,  José Feghali,  Philippe Bianconi
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra,  Tokyo String Quartet
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  • 25.
    Beethoven:
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907423 Release Date: 11/08/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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