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  • String Quintet D956
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String Quintet D956 Import

Price: £14.95
Only 1 left in stock.
Dispatched from and sold by EliteDigital UK.
2 new from £14.95 6 used from £8.99
£14.95 Only 1 left in stock. Dispatched from and sold by EliteDigital UK.

Product details

  • Audio CD (25 Oct. 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Bmg Music
  • ASIN: B00000E6GQ
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,248,730 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By MBR on 10 Nov. 2012
What's interesting about this disc is that it gives us a very distinctive & refreshing version of the quintet, compared to many of the recent versions. Recorded in 1961 Heifetz & co really bring out the beauty of this work. The sound on this remastered recording is very acceptable; it may not match the latest in recorded sound but it certainly brings out for this generation exactly what these legendary artists were capable of.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
One of Heifetz' most controversial chamber music recordings - and I can't make any musical sense of it 3 Oct. 2006
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Heifetz is ever a controversial violinist and chamber music leader.

This recording of Schubert's C-major Quintet was made in 1961 and part of a series of chamber music recordings with Heifetz as band leader, now documented on RCA's Heifetz collection. I had so hated it on LP that I got rid of it years ago - something I seldom do - , but in my experience, as my knowledge of multiple versions (I am now approaching twenty of this one) and understanding of a piece grows, I become more tolerant and - well, understanding to approaches that do not correspond to my initial expectations, as I realize that there is not one interpretive "truth", but a variety of possible and legitimate approaches to what the composer wrote, each one highlighting the composition. Assessing a given interpretation means, in my opinion and practice of music listening, understanding in which interpretive tradition it fits, how well it realizes it, and, if at variance with established custom, what musical validity that specific approach may have on its own terms. With all its reckless tempos, Heifetz's recording of Brahms' second sextet has become one of my favorites, as I find that it lends extraordinary romantic fire to the piece, with no loss of lyricism (Brahms: Hungarian Dances WoO1; Dvorak: Quintet No2). So I decided to give a new try to this one.

I find it as hateful as before.

At variance with any established tradition it is, with a vengeance. I read somewhere on the net a comment maintaining that, contrary to the cliché, Heifetz did not play everything faster, but that his clarity of articulation only gave that impression. That commentator should have used a stopwatch! These guys must have had the 5pm train to catch! Compare their timings to those of the Pro Arte Quartet, who made the first recording in 1935 (Biddulph The Pro Arte Quartet play Schubert: Quintet for 2 violins, viola & 2 cellos in C major, D. 956 / Brahms: String Sextet No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 18), themselves by no means a slow reading: 14'/12'20/9'/9'17 to Heifetz's 12'47/10'22/7'37/7'45. The tempos of Felix Galimir and Marlboro partners (Sony Schubert: Quintet in C D. 956; The Shepherd on the Rock) are unusually spacious, and they clock (1st movement repeat deducted to make things comparable) at 16/16:25/9:35/9:50. Among recent versions the Orpheus Quartet (Channel Classics Schubert: String Quintet In C Major D 956) is a fast one and its timings (without 3rd movement repeat) are 14:10/13:40/8:05/9:10.

So Heifetz and partners are in a class of their own. Clearly, most of their tempo choices blatantly disregard Schubert's indications - all due consideration given to the fundamental imprecision of such literary markings. In the opening movement they don't seem to have noticed that Schubert added "ma non troppo" to his "Allegro" ; one wonders what Schubert should have written in place of "Adagio" for them to take the 2nd movement just a bit slower - "lentissimo possible"? and their Finale is taken Presto rather than the Allegretto written by Schubert. Yet, independent of the score - does it work musically?

Granted, in places it does. The Scherzo's outer sections (and Schubert has indeed written Presto here) have explosive drive, and, by stretching one's tolerance and understanding, one could consider that some 3 minutes in the central part of the adagio exude a gripping, desperate violence.

And that's it. I am well aware that how one reacts to these unusual tempos is a matter of taste, but to me the first movement sounds as the sonic equivalent of those old movies shot at 20 images/s and broadcast at TV's 25/s, or as a 33rmp played at 45rmp speed. In the sublime adagio I find both the fast tempo of the Pro Arte Quartet and the slow, time-suspended movement of the Melos Quartet with Rostropovich (DG Schubert: String Quintet In C Major, D. 956) or Galimir and Marlboro effective and deeply moving, but this here is just to much speed and utter lack of feeling; and while I can admire the virtuosity of Heifetz's spiccato playing in the Finale, given the breakneck speed he adopts, the movement sounds as some frenzied gipsy dance rather than the vigorous Allegretto Schubert wrote. Add to that a dry recording and boxy and shrill sound that belittles the instrumental impact, and there is not much I find of value in this reading.

Fillers? Whatever its interpretive merits, the string trio comes in a sound so harsh and dry as to make its listening uncomfortable, and the Ave Maria is no more than a lachrymose trifle of the kind the 78rpm era was fond of. It does have a kind of mawkish charm, though.

Remain the three Bach three-part Sinfonias played on violin, viola and cello, quite effectively, to make one regret that Bach didn't write the equivalent of Bartok's 44 duets and frustrated that the artists recorded only three and not the whole lot, with the two-part Inventions thrown in for good measure. Wonder if anybody has? The Goldbergs were done on string trio after all.

Now it is your decision - but don't say you weren't warned.

By the way, my copy is for sale
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A different opinion 19 Nov. 2011
By F. Rupert - Published on Amazon.com
I can't let Discophage get away with his review, though he is of course entitled to his opinion, without providing a different perspective.

PERFORMANCE: First of all, none of us was around in the 1820s. Since Schubert and his contemporaries were so thoughtless as to not provide us with desired timings for this composition, who can say what "ma non troppo" meant to them? Yes, the performance is certainly on the quick side, but I don't find it especially off-putting. "Allegro" after all, just means "fast." Is fast 70 miles per hour or 500? So what does "Fast but not too much" ("Allegro ma non troppo") mean? 490 mph? 45 mph? We don't know and different performers will have their own opinions.

In fact, I mostly like the performance. Yes, within the contemporary range of recorded performances, it is faster than most, but who is to say that the slowest is somehow more valid musically? Discophage's review seems to imply that slow is good and fast is bad.

The first movement is prompt but not unnervingly fast to my ears. The 2nd (slow) movement has forward motion: it avoids the near-stasis of some performances. This movement is quite long, and sometimes can seem tedious when you're playing it, despite its beauty. The third movement (Scherzo) is brilliant, fast and effective in the Presto, much slower in the Trio. Again it's effective and sensible. The fourth movement is fast, and in this case not especially to my taste. Schubert's "Allegretto" instruction seems to imply a Hungarian quick march, but this group makes the movement into a virtuoso Allegro. It's brilliant and effective, but seemingly not what Allegretto implies. In the concert hall, this approach would be very exciting and bring down the house, I'm sure.

SOUND: The sound may be the reason this recording is "controversial." (To whom, by the way?) The miking is close, so the sound is harsh at times. Heifetz attacks the strings as he would in a concert hall, yielding a lot of sizzle, and what some would consider a harsh sound. Frankly, since I play chamber music myself, I can offer that the recording sounds like an outstanding group of players in a relatively small space, like a home, not a concert hall. If you are used to the sound of a chamber group in a good-sized space, where the acoustics round off the grittiness of string instruments heard close up and provide reverberance and warmth, you may not like the sound. If you are a musician it may sound awfully familiar to what you hear when you're playing chamber music yourself. If only we mortals could play like this group!!

TECHNIQUE: The performers are astonishingly secure--not just Heifetz. You will not find anyone who plays it better technically.

All in all, an exciting performance that is out of the ordinary.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Three Titans at their best 23 Mar. 2007
By John Ruggeri - Published on Amazon.com
Listen to the beauty and artistry of these magnificent performers. No one like them today for sure.
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