The matchless Takács Quartet return to Schubert. Their first disc on Hyperion—his ‘Death and the Maiden’ and ‘Rosamunde’ quartets—received unprecedently lavish critical acclaim, acknowledging a new modern benchmark for these works.
Now they turn to perhaps the most hauntingly beautiful of all Schubert’s chamber works, the String Quintet—completed six weeks before the composer’s death. Schubert included a second cello in the texture, creating a sumptuously warm sound, a cradling intimacy. Here the Takács players are joined by cellist Ralph Kirshbaum. Also recorded here is the ‘Quartettsatz’: a fragment—of the highest quality—of a String Quartet in C minor abandoned by the composer.
“Their performance, with Ralph Kirshbaum fitting effortlessly into the ensemble as second cellist, is never conceived as a reassuring tour around one of western music's supreme achievements. There's always an undertow of unease...It's a formidably satisfying performance” The Guardian, 25th October 2012 *****
“The recording — wonderfully vivid and “present” — is all that one expects from the producer, Andrew Keener, and the quality of the playing and musical insights is superlative...The sonorities the Takacs players and Kirshbaum bring to this great music are quasi-orchestral, but they convey the intimate pages of the score in a manner that is both soul-baring and deeply moving.” Sunday Times, 28th October 2012
“As anticipated, there's much to admire in their pacing and detailing of the piece. Subtle changes of colour abound...Tempi are generally very well-judged...The playing is consistently impressive but what I missed was a sense of fearlessness...the flexibility of the leader Edward Dusinberre's phrasing is a particular joy, as is his sound - that ideal mix of warmth and precision” Gramophone Magazine, December 2012
“This is exactly the kind of aristocratic, intellectually commanding playing you would expect of the Takacs Quartet...The Takacs pace the argument superbly, so that everything in this huge, complex structure seems to happen at exactly the right time...Yet for all its Olympian beauty and grandeur, this performance isn't quite so strong when it comes to capturing the human side of Schubert.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2013 ***