The matchless Takács Quartet return to Schubert. Their first disc on Hyperion—his ‘Death and the Maiden’ and ‘Rosamunde’ quartets—received unprecedently lavish critical acclaim, acknowledging a new modern benchmark for these works.
Now they turn to perhaps the most hauntingly beautiful of all Schubert’s chamber works, the String Quintet—completed six weeks before the composer’s 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 fragment—of the highest quality—of a String Quartet in C minor abandoned by the composer.
As anticipated, there's much to admire in their pacing and detailing of the piece. Subtle changes of colour abound...Tempi are generally very well-judged...The playing is consistently impressive but what I missed was a sense of fearlessness...the flexibility of the leader Edward Dusinberre's phrasing is a particular joy, as is his sound - that ideal mix of warmth and precision. Gramophone
This is exactly the kind of aristocratic, intellectually commanding playing you would expect of the Takacs Quartet...The Takacs pace the argument superbly, so that everything in this huge, complex structure seems to happen at exactly the right time...Yet for all its Olympian beauty and grandeur, this performance isn't quite so strong when it comes to capturing the human side of Schubert. BBC ***