Twenty-five years ago four young Japanese musicians formed the Tokyo String Quartet at the urging of their mentor, Robert Mann of the Julliard String Quartet. It was an auspicious debut, signaling the arrival of a new generation of quartets capable of inheriting the mantle of their distinguised elders. At first the Tokyo emulated the Juilliard’s incandescent sound and intellectual approach, proffering roughly the same mix of classical and contemporary fare. In the early 80s the British-trained Canadian Peter Oundjian took over the first violinist’s chair–joining violinist Kikuei Ikeda, violist Kazuhide Isomura, and cellist Sadao Harada–and the Tokyo’s sound mellowed and became more obviously expressive. (Ironically, the latest Julliard roster seems to sound more like this Tokyo.). During its silver-anniversary tour the Tokyo will perform (and record) the entire cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets–the pinnacle of chamber music making. Here they’ll play the op. 18 no. 4, an early experiment in Beethoven’s masterly development of the genre, along with Debussy’s Quartet in G, op. 10, an impressionist gem, and Brahms’s autumnal, heavyweight Quintet op. 111 no 2. Violist Pinchas Zukerman is the guest player in the Brahms. Sunday, 3 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Martha Swope.