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  • Schubert: String Quintet/ Quartet (Takács Quartet; Ralph Kirshbaum) (Hyperion: CDA67864)
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Schubert: String Quintet/ Quartet (Takács Quartet; Ralph Kirshbaum) (Hyperion: CDA67864)

4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Franz Schubert
  • Audio CD (29 Oct. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B0097LP1HK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 114,537 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. String Quintet in C major D956 Allegro ma non troppo [19'54]
2. String Quintet in C major D956 Adagio [14'31]
3. String Quintet in C major D956 Scherzo, Presto Trio, Andante sostenuto [10'28]
4. String Quintet in C major D956 Allegretto [9'42]
5. String Quartet in C minor Quartettsatz D703 [9'06] - Takacs Quartet

Product Description

Product Description

The matchless Takács Quartet return to Schubert. Their first disc on Hyperionhis Death and the Maiden and Rosamunde quartetsreceived unprecedently lavish critical acclaim, acknowledging a new modern benchmark for these works.

Now they turn to perhaps the most hauntingly beautiful of all Schuberts chamber works, the String Quintetcompleted six weeks before the composers 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 fragmentof the highest qualityof a String Quartet in C minor abandoned by the composer.


"A Schubert quintet from arguably the greatest string quartet before the public today will have been long awaited, and it is characteristic of the Takacs that they have held off until now, presumably after many performances with their chosen cellist colleague, Ralph Kirshbaum. 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. Written during the last year of the composer s brief life, this awesome work remained unpublished and unperformed until 22 years after his death like the Great C major Symphony, an Alpine peak that none of Schubert's contemporaries dared to climb. Lasting five minutes short of an hour, it remains one of the largest of chamber works, and most dramatic in conception: the ailing composer seems riven with turbulence in the opening allegro ma non troppo and the defiant scherzo, yet calmly serene in the outer sections of the sublime adagio. 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. The famous Quartet Movement from an unfinished work in C minor has rarely been delivered with such febrile intensity." PICK OF THE WEEK --Sunday Times, 28/10/12

The issue with the Quintet crystallises when you turn to the Quartettsatz. Suddenly all the things that make this ensemble so remarkable are on display:the confidence to take risks, the spontaneous-sounding rubatos and the independence of each player while sharing a collective vision.recommendable. --Gramophone, Christmas'12

This is exactly the kind of aristocratic, intellectually commanding playing you would expect of the Takacs Quartet. Performance ***(*) Recording ***(*) --BBC Music Magazine,Jan'13

One of the Top 10 Classical recordings of 2012 --Sunday Times

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By a nice guy who likes reading on 21 Aug. 2013
Schubert's final chamber work apparently lay forgotten until 1850. Thank goodness no one threw away the garbage because this piece is one of the most magnificent chamber works of all time. The indefatigable Takacs Quartet play with their usual sense of utmost cohesion. Are they four players or one? They are perfectly balanced... a truly great ensemble.
A reviewer on Amazon US mentions audible breathing throughout the slow movement. As this is not evident in the Quartettsatz I have a feeling that it could be the visiting cellist... It does make it annoying to listen to on headphones, but on a normal stereo presents no problem.
For people who collect great recordings of this quintet (like me!) then you would be missing a shining jewel in the crown if you didn't purchase this. There have been many good recordings before but I've never heard such weighty gravitas in the trio nor such sublime ebb and flow in the second subject of the first movement. It is one of the clearest versions (regarding the recording itself) that I've heard. I still have a soft spot for the Raphael Ensemble (also a Hyperion recording), possibly because the finale is just a touch more brusque, but this is the recording that I listen to on a rainy day!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Entartete Musik on 15 Nov. 2012
The Viennese commend eine schöne Leich (a beautiful corpse). Death is big business in Vienna and, in some quarters, , a deluxe send off is still considered de rigueur. It is seemingly in that spirit that the Takács Quartet has approached Schubert's String Quintet - a work completed just before the composer's death in November 1828. Rather than focussing on a chilly cadaver, this new Hyperion Records disc provides luxurious last rites.

Others take a more spectral approach, such as the Belcea Quartet on its 2009 EMI recording (among recent interpreters in this work's vast discography). In marked contrast, the Takács and cellist Ralph Kirshbaum plump for plush muscularity. There's a full-blooded surge to the work's introductory gestures, as well as healthy debate within the first subject. The second more lyrical theme has contrasting sweetness and warmth, though it is never acquiescent, indicative of boundless inspiration rather than the end of a life.

The Adagio is delivered in unaffected terms, akin to the Tokyo Quartet's recent recording. But there's a balance to be struck between that and the Belcea's more febrile reading. On repeated listens the Takács's cantabile playing may prove too pliant, particularly in the all-too-lyrical construal of the final section. Furthermore, I missed a coarseness in the Scherzo, which lacks the feral quality that the Takács brought to its performances of Haydn's quartets. Concluding such a reading, the finale takes Schubert at his word rather than exploring his and his music's slippery 'double nature'. That more equivocal tone only really appears in the accompanying performance of the Quartettsatz.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By colb-aus on 26 Dec. 2012
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Terrific recording
Terrific performance
It's getting to the stage where I see the latest release from this quartet and automatically buy it
They haven't done anything for me to change this Pavlovian response as yet :-)
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I absolutely love this recording - the sound quality is amazing and the interpretation keeps this piece sounding alive and fresh. The musicians are almost in the room with you. My favourite recording so far by a mile.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Good, but still Second in My Mind 16 Nov. 2012
By J. R. Trtek - Published on
Having been impressed with the Takács Quartet Quartet's recordings of Schumann and Schubert, I decided to go to more of their Schubert with this disc containing the Quintet in C and the Quartettsatz. And on the whole, it's pretty good. Still, the performances failed to supplant my current top choices. For years, I have preferred the rendition on EMI of the Quintet by the Alban Berg Quartet in the company of cellist Heinrich Schiff, and hearing this new recording by the Takács Quartet folks augmented by Ralph Kirshbaum doesn't really change things. While I like the Takács Quartet version, it has a bit of a rough edge to it, while the Berg recording is wonderfully smooth. I liked that bit of jagged sound in the Tackacs renditions of the Schubert Quartets Nos. 13 and 14, but for me the Quintet is a more ethereal work requiring less sonic muscle and more finesse, which the Berg Quartet supply in abundance. Similarly, while the Tackacs peformance of the Quartettsatz is okay, I still prefer the version by the Melos Quartet, among others. Again, I'm not saying these are bad performances -- if you like that muscular aspect I referred to earlier, these should be perfect for you. Indeed, there are days when they are just fine for me as well. It's just that most of the time I just like other approaches a bit better.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Unfortunately not a 'breathless' performance... 9 Dec. 2012
By Tal Sharvit - Published on
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This could be a truly wonderful recording, BUT...someone is breathing heavily right from the start. I don't have a problem with it happening now and then, but when one hears a passionate intake of breath before virtually every single phrase, it gets exasperating and very soon ruins the entire experience. As one might expect, it's not so noticeable in the scherzo, which is glorious, but in the slow, contemplative movements, where one would more than ever desire to hear the music speak for itself, these clutchy air intakes simply never stop. Didn't anyone preview this recording? I won't attempt to judge for certain who's doing it, but it sounds masculine...and I did not notice it on my recordings by this ensemble in the past (before or after the appearance of Miss Walther). It's really too bad; perhaps some will be able to get past this unfortunate intrusion, but not I. I really can't see listening to it again . . .
Excellent performance by the Takacs Quartet in superb Hyperion sound 20 Mar. 2015
By Michael Birman - Published on
Beautiful performances of Schubert's late chamber works are not uncommon, probably because the music itself is so beautiful and his writing with its lyrical warmth is immediately enticing to a listener. There is something seductive about Schubert's chamber music. I've often thought that the Trout Quintet, the String Quintet D.956 recorded here and the late string quartets were musical equivalents of the odes written by Keats. They have a similar autumnal sumptuousness, a slightly over-ripe, verdant harvest of fruit and flowers. Both lived and wrote during the same years, both died far too young. The String Quintet D.956 finished barely 6 weeks before Schubert's death contains all of the elements of his "late" style: it features a succession of brilliant melodies that are long-lined, extending for several bars. The harmonies are daring and far ahead of their time, closer to Brahms than Haydn. The movements are lengthy, Schubert has a lot to say and takes his time saying it. And inevitably, it is haunted by death. Although Schubert doesn't wallow in despair in his late works, he cannot avoid a good, hard look at the tragic side of life. Schubert's String Quintet D.956 is one of greatest chamber works ever written. Mozart is great because he is emotionally ambiguous in his greatest chamber works: joyful and sad at the same time. But there is nothing ambiguous about the emotions that are contained in this work.

The Takacs Quartet continue their traversal of Schubert's chamber works, adding Ralph Kirshbaum on second cello. I've been listening to this disc in high-definition 24/96 format and I am thoroughly impressed by both the performance, which is deeply emotional, slightly aggressive in attack and beautifully expressive without sentimentalizing any of the darker moments. and the recording which is exemplary. Hyperion's engineers seem to prefer a closely miked acoustic with a fairly wide soundstage. They added just a dollop of reverb to avoid the dryness that closely miking can cause. The sound is warm and rich with just a hint of that slight raspy quality of bow hitting string that one hears during a live performance. I could not detect any annoying sound artifacts during the recording that another reviewer mentioned. Perhaps this hi-def version provides a slightly different perspective. There are many fine recordings of this work. The Alban Berg, which I own, is excellent. So is the Emerson Quartet with Rostropovich. Yo-Yo Ma made a wonderful recording of the work around 1990 with Isaac Stern on Sony, as well. Heifetz made a fine recording of this in the early days of long-playing records that is a fascinating document of performance practices in the mid-20th century. For its combination of excellent performance and superb sound this Takacs Quartet recording is my current favorite. Their traversal of Schubert's chamber works is turning out to be a good one and is definitely worth owning.
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