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Schubert: String Quintet D. 956, Quartettsatz D.703 Hybrid SACD

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD, 1 Nov 2011
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Product details

  • Composer: Franz Schubert
  • Audio CD (1 Nov. 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi USA
  • ASIN: B00585QLZ0
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 248,457 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
  • If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Allegro Ma Non Troppo
  2. Adagio
  3. Scherzo. Presto - Trio. Andante Sostenuto
  4. Allegretto
  5. Quartettsatz in C Minor, D703 - Tokyo String Quartet

Product description

Review

In every way it is an outstanding disc. --Mortimer H Frank, International Record Review, December 2011

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recording, made in 2010, delivers a particularly sumptuous string tone set within a sumptuous soundstage. This is especially apparent when replaying the disc in its intended SACD format through full surround sound. At that stage there is no denying the advantages of this disc as a sound medium.

The performances given by the Tokyo Quartet have a matching warmth and this suits the quintet very well indeed with Schubert's choice of a second cello rather than the more common extra higher string bringing the intended extra warmth of the lower string textures clearly into interpretive focus.

David Watkin, as the extra cellist, is able to blend in with the rest of the quartet which makes the listening experience more evenly satisfying than with the more dominant role of Rostropovich for example in his alternative type of reading for example. The whole ensemble plays with consumate skill as one might expect and this is a deeply rewarding musical experience. There can be little doubt that it deserves its place amongst the elite recordings of this work.

The unfinished 12th quartet, the Quartettsatz, is here played with the fragment of the following movement, some 40 bars, finishing just as Schubert left it. This inconclusive ending can easily be avoided for regular replaying by programming the normal single opening movement. This is likely to be most listeners' choice one would suspect. Whichever option is chosen, it would be hard to imagine a more satisfying performance as recorded here, once more in superlative and involving sound.

This is a very fine disc which combines excellent performances with the advantages of an excellent SACD sound option. Played in stereo mode the disc is capable of holding its own with other stereo alternatives.
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Format: Audio CD
Schubert died in November 1828. He had completed his String Quintet two months before. You can hear the work as a fevered and bitter goodbye, like the Belcea Quartet's recent recording on EMI. Or it can be performed as 'life in the old boy yet'. That's the sound world that the Tokyo Quartet and David Watkin inhabit in their velvety new recording for Harmonia Mundi.

Rather than accentuating dialectic, the Tokyo Quartet prefers a muted but luxurious tone. The shifting harmonies of the first movement appear as if from treacle. It particularly works in the lilting second subject. Their performance shows Schubert in all his maturity, though the development section lacks danger. There's something a little too earthbound about this Adagio. Glorious, but not yet gripping.

The choice really pays off when the growling scherzo is interrupted by a wonderful understated trio. Slurred delivery blurs space and time and Schubert is caught in the middle. It's a double bluff, professing warmth just that little bit too much. And the Tokyo's weighty finale and performance of the Quartettsatz push those sumptuous credentials yet further. This is the Schubert of heavy smoke and drink rather than the shivering wreck. But it works and we need to experience both ends of that spectrum.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Excellent
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tokyo Qt, Schubert Qnt D956: Highly recommended ... reading, sound, matched Strads ... 3 Dec. 2011
By drdanfee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
To my ears this hybrid SACD/CD disc is a real winner.

The venerated Schubert string quintet (D956) surely needs no introduction. Few listeners will say this quintet is not among Shubert's best works, and even fewer will say it is not among the greatest chamber music so far written.

My fav shelf bench marks have been: Cleveland Qt w Ma, a Music From Marlboro reading with Felix Galimir and company, and Lazlo Varga sitting in with the Hungarian Quartet on EMI. This disc easily joins whatever select group you may already cherish.

First off, the super audio surround sound is simply gorgeous, in a subtle, rich, warm way that does not ever call attention to high resolution sound as such while engineering concentrates on serving up the most vivid recreation from the recording studio. Bravo to Harmonia Mundi for bothering with SACD for this release, because I can just imagine some marketing folks somewhere, opining that a quintet only has five string players and surely underwhelms the high resolution media. Not so, not so, not so. This SACD could indeed serve as a fine demonstration disc, not least because the Tokyo Quartet plays on a matched set of Stradivarius instruments on loan to the players from the Nippon Music Foundation (who purchased these outstanding and glorious violins, viola, and cello from the Corcoran Gallery in about 1995). If ever a stringed instrument deserved our best engineering work, surely these instruments qualify for the race.

On top of the fine string instruments, matched to super audio sound, we get one of the great chamber works of all time. This in itself might be called a home run in some quarters.

What Tokyo plus guest cellist David Watkins bring to the Schubert is simply a deep, winning combination of precision, warmth, and subtlety. These players have little need to underline or highlight the interplay of light and shadow, lyrical lift and dark tones, innate to the quintet. To that end, perhaps some listeners will find their reading under-dramatized; I do not. I hear any number of rich, passing inflections that betray what sounds like great care, great musical dedication to the composer and to this enduring chamber work. If the phrasing and intonation are laser-ed precision, the recorded balance among the five string instruments could hardly be bettered. We simply get a prize meld of room resonance (not too much), clarity (all five players are vividly heard ... listen closely and hear a cornucopia of individual arts flooding out of five speakers), and overall presence.

The filler work on the disc is the quartet movement, D 703. It comes down to us as a fragment that the composer was unable or unwilling to finish, rather like the so-called "Unfinished symphony". Quality tells in the end, however, so this single movement manages to suit its listing after the quintet is done. Again, Tokyo brings rich, warm, subtle playing to bear, and one quickly forgets anything but the musical movement at hand.

Move over, then ... Cleveland with Ma, Galimir and friends at Marlboro, Varga and the Hungarian. I introduce a new disc to the fav shelf with no misgivings at all. If you already love the Schubert quintet D956, then you owe it to yourself to give this disc a chance, in super audio surround if your rig permits. If you do not yet know and love the quintet, I think you could hardly have a better first introduction, all told, than giving this reading a few spins. Besides. When was the last time you had the tingling pleasures of four Strads, holding forth in your very own listening space? Five stars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Celestial music. 22 Feb. 2014
By Trish - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is one of the most gripping pieces of chamber music that I have ever listened to, particularly the 2nd movement. The SACD gives this performance particular warmth and realism.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome 2 Sept. 2013
By Herber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
One of the best interpretation that I ever hear.

unfortunately the publication don't have samples, but this interpretation is similar in tempo to Mstislav Rostropovich-Emerson String quartet interpretation with a greater refinement of sound quality.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine coupling offering a superlative and sumptuous SACD option for those with surround sound facility 4 Jan. 2015
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This recording, made in 2010, delivers a particularly sumptuous string tone set within a sumptuous soundstage. This is especially apparent when replaying the disc in its intended SACD format through full surround sound. At that stage there is no denying the advantages of this disc as a sound medium.

The performances given by the Tokyo Quartet have a matching warmth and this suits the quintet very well indeed with Schubert's choice of a second cello rather than the more common extra higher string bringing the intended extra warmth of the lower string textures clearly into interpretive focus.

David Watkin, as the extra cellist, is able to blend in with the rest of the quartet which makes the listening experience more evenly satisfying than with the more dominant role of Rostropovich for example in his alternative type of reading for example. The whole ensemble plays with consumate skill as one might expect and this is a deeply rewarding musical experience. There can be little doubt that it deserves its place amongst the elite recordings of this work.

The unfinished 12th quartet, the Quartettsatz, is here played with the fragment of the following movement, some 40 bars, finishing just as Schubert left it. This inconclusive ending can easily be avoided for regular replaying by programming the normal single opening movement. This is likely to be most listeners' choice one would suspect. Whichever option is chosen, it would be hard to imagine a more satisfying performance as recorded here, once more in superlative and involving sound.

This is a very fine disc which combines excellent performances with the advantages of an excellent SACD sound option. Played in stereo mode the disc is capable of holding its own with other stereo alternatives. It is not appropriate to suggest 'best' performances in such oft-recorded works such as these, but this disc certainly deserves to be considered along with the very best available. The SACD option may well be a deciding factor for many potential purchasers.
0 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed in the inclusion of an incomplete piece on the ... 1 Nov. 2014
By EJS - Reno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I was disappointed in the inclusion of an incomplete piece on the disc. There is only one complete piece, the Quintet, and then two movements of a quartet with the 2nd being only a "fragment." Very disconcerting.
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