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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eine schöne Leich, 15 Nov 2012
This review is from: Schubert: String Quintet/ Quartet (Takács Quartet; Ralph Kirshbaum) (Hyperion: CDA67864) (Audio CD)
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.

You cannot fault the Takács Quartet's generous playing, the player's tone and their commitment across these searing works. It all makes for a rhapsodic disc, a beautiful corpse, upholstered in the best possible taste. But I cannot deny missing the haunting skeletal figure presented by other interpreters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A recording to cherish, 21 Aug 2013
This review is from: Schubert: String Quintet/ Quartet (Takács Quartet; Ralph Kirshbaum) (Hyperion: CDA67864) (Audio CD)
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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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takacs = excellent !!, 26 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Schubert: String Quintet/ Quartet (Takács Quartet; Ralph Kirshbaum) (Hyperion: CDA67864) (Audio CD)
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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