For me, it is with the Razumovsky Quartets, together with his Fourth Piano Concerto, that the full maturity of Beethoven's so-called 'Middle Period' bears its ripest fruit. This double CD, which includes the Razumovsky set and 'The Harp', offers exceptional value. While not perfect, no-one who loves Beethoven's quartet writing should ignore this acclaimed collection by the Takáks.
The reason why these quartets are so sublime is not just because they are packed with melody and invention. Beethoven's trademark dynamism plays its full part. The Takáks are sensitive and expressive as well as technically accomplished. The range of sounds they extract from their instruments, at times harsh, at others eerily scratchy, at moments barely above a whisper, is well suited to the demands of this music.
Like the players, the recording is also highly sensitive - at times, perhaps excessively so. While we get to hear each note in meticulous detail, we also get the occasional sharp intake of breath. All in all, however, this is the set to beat. The Takàcs make listening to Beethoven's chamber music a real pleasure.