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Beethoven: String Quartets [CD]

Ludwig van Beethoven, Takács Quartet Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: £21.25 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Takács Quartet
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (6 May 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B000063WRQ
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,047 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. String Quartet No.7 in F major, Op.59 No.1 "Rasumovsky" - Beethoven
2. String Quartet No.10 in E-flat major, op.74 "Harp" - Beethoven
Disc: 2
1. String Quartet No.8 in E minor Op.59 No.2 "Rasumovsky" - Beethoven
2. String Quartet No.9 in C major Op.59 No.3 "Rasumovsky" - Beethoven

Product Description


Having toured the world with its Beethoven cycle as the old millennium entered the new, the Takacs Quartet now commits the same to disc. This two-CD set from Decca includes the three Razumovsky quartets, Op.59 of 1806, and the Harp Quartet, Op.74, sometimes known as the Lobkowitz after its dedicatee, composed in 1809. Although the latter's presto yields the fastest version of the fate motif Beethoven ever wrote, it is possible to go too quickly as the Takacs does here, making triplets of the first notes which are not written as such. The speed of the dazzling finale of the Razumovsky No 3 is impressive but just fails to grip as firmly as a slightly slower, more controlled performance might.

The Thème Russe last movement of the Razumovsky No 1 on the other hand is a model of restraint, the playful parts entering from all angles with delightful measured precision, polished and perfect. The Takacs' music breathes as if in a meditative trance the broad, shallow arch of the molto adagio which lasts a satisfying quarter-hour in Razumovsky No 2. The four play best what is calculated and intricate like the theme and variations which conclude the Harp Quartet, giving each episode a distinct flavour. Variety is more important than usual on one-composer recordings such as this and the members of the Takacs Quartet prove themselves contemplative Beethovenians who occasionally mistake the gallop for a stampede. --Rick Jones

Product Description

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply faultless - and interesting as well! 26 Feb 2009
By Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I play in an amateur string quartet and recently we've been working on Op. 59/1. BBC3's CD review picked the Takacs a couple of weeks ago as best for the Op. 95 'Serioso' Quartet, so I bought this 2-CD set with the Rasumovskys expecting it to be good, and it sure is! Each player is an individual and all are interesting (lovely viola playing, for example), but the ensemble and the extent to which the performances have been thought-through are just as impressive. Some of the work is really virtuosic (how does the first violin, Edward Dusinberre, manage the ornamental passage-work at the end of the first movement of Op. 74 at that hair-raising speed?) but quiet and lyrical moments are just as impressive and the slow movements of all four quartets are really lovely. No wonder this Quartet has won so many plaudits. At this ridiculously small price*, these two CDs are a real bargain (there's a good multi-language booklet with them and useful notes by Misha Donat). If this is music you like, no need to hesitate! I see 'The Gramophone' Classical CD Guide rates it right at the top too.

*(22nd. February 2013) - I should explain that the price has gone up a lot since I bought this set almost exactly two years ago ; but it's still good value for money.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great music, superbly played 9 Feb 2009
Format:Audio CD
This double CD contains Beethoven's terrific "middle period" quartets - the three Op.59 "Rasoumovsky" quartets and the Op.74. It was the first volume issued in what is now a complete cycle by the Takacs, and which is regarded by many as one of the major musical achievements of the last few years. I agree - this is a simply wonderful set.

The Takacs Quartet are technically outstanding. Tuning is faultless and the precision of their playing together is quite remarkable. In the finale of Op.59 No.3, for example, Beethoven's final sprint for the finishing line is played with thrilling vigour and at a tremendous pace, but intonation and rhythm are rock solid, which cannot be said of some other recordings by leading quartets. Here we have four marvellous musicians playing brilliantly and absolutely at home with each other.

This bedrock of technique allows their wonderful interpretation of the music to shine out. In Beethoven's sublime slow movements, for example, there is exactly the right balance of sweetness and intensity - never cloying but never impenetrable. This excellence of interpretation runs right through the whole set and if you're looking for a recording of the Rasoumovsky Quartets you couldn't do better, I reckon. Even if you have recordings you love, I'd suggest buying this set - you will find real insight and pleasure throughout. Now it's a budget price it's an absolute steal, and I cannot recommend it too highly.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A set to be reckoned with 11 Jan 2009
By Jon Chambers VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
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.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation and a bargain 27 Sep 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have recently bought this set from independent seller on Amazon and have to say the quartets, the recording and the playing are absolutely superb. There really is so much going on in the interplay between the members of the quartet and the recording is of the highest quality which really bounces the sound between the players. If you have been brought up on Mozart and Haydn chamber music [both of which I love] you will find so much more going on in these quartets and they really demand your undivided attention. You can buy these with confidence and get hours of listening pleasure.
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