The regular visits of the Takacs Quartet used to be one of the highlights of Washington’s cultural life, because the group played in a venue with some of the best acoustics for chamber music in the city, the auditorium at the Corcoran Museum of Art. The quartet was last there in 2008, and the Corcoran has since downsized its chamber music concert series into nonexistence, made official this season. In the past couple of years, the Takacs Quartet has tried out other venues in the area, never quite finding such a good match for its sound. Until Tuesday night, that is, when the group made its long-overdue debut on the Fortas Chamber Music series in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.
Being part of the “Music of Budapest, Prague and Vienna” festival at the Kennedy Center gave the esteemed quartet the excuse to play one of the Bartok string quartets, as if it needed one. There is no group, live or on disc, I would rather hear in these densely constructed, challenging, but rewarding pieces. The players attacked the Fourth Quartet with a bite in the tone but never overbearing harshness.