The Tokyo Quartet has announced that the 2012-13 season will be its last. Second violinist Kikuei Ikeda and viola player Kazuhide Isomura decided to retire and, in the words of the Quartet's First Violinist, Martin Beaver, 'It is a difficult prospect to replace one long-standing quartet member. To replace two of them simultaneously is a Herculean task. With the retirement of our colleagues in our minds, we increasingly felt over the last few months that the most fitting way we could honor and celebrate our quartet's long and illustrious career was to bring it to a graceful close.'
Kazuhide Isomura was a founding member of the Quartet in 1960 and Kikuei Ikeda joined the group in 1974. Martin Beaver joined in 2002 and Clive Greensmith (cello) in 2000. During its 44-year history, the ensemble has won numerous awards – including a Gramophone Award for their set of the Bartók Quartets for DG in 1981 – and most recently has received acclaim for its Beethoven string quartet series for Harmonia Mundi. Its most recent disc is of the Schubert Quintet with David Watkin (Harmonia Mundi). The Tokyo Quartet has made discs for RCA, DG and Harmonia Mundi.
In its final season and a half, the Tokyo Quartet remains as busy as ever, as the schedule on its website reveals.