Notes and Editorial Reviews
HYPERION 67793 (58:28)
HYPERION 67781 (63:41)
It’s always a pleasure to
review a Takács Quartet record, for the simple reason that it is among the half-dozen or so most famous string quartets in the world, and for a very good reason. It’s excellent, and always has been since it first appeared in 1975. Károly Schranz (second violinist) and András Fejér (cellist) remain from the original group to make sure such later arrivals as Edward Dusinberre (violin I) and Geraldine Walther (violist) stay in the right tradition.
With high standards being the group’s wont, there is nothing negative to report, only how effective its approach to these works is. I’m happy to say that the standard continues unabated here. Takács has the kind of sound I would describe as “pointed, with a sheen.” It does not pursue a rich-toned blend, as with the Amadeus or Emerson quartets, nor does it go in much for obvious rubato effects as the Tokyo Quartet does (these are not criticisms, merely differences of style and approach). I prefer a bit more play in performances of Haydn’s music, so for me these more straightforward readings are not
as delightful as the recordings by the Buchberger Quartet on Brilliant 93889 (be forewarned, a complete set running 23 CDs), but they are certainly pleasing and would make a nice fit in your collection if you prefer the straightforward approach. For another example of what I mean, compare the reading of the op. 74, No. 3 quartet (here subtitled “Rider,” though I’ve known it all my life as the “Horseman” quartet) with the Budapest Quartet’s famous late-1940s version. Although Budapest was also famous in its time for objective readings of scores, its performance has, to my ears anyway, more character, but this is always a subjective criticism and has nothing to do with Takács’s integrity or lack of understanding. Because of the particular grouping, I’m wondering if these two CDs may not presage a complete recording of the Haydn quartets for Hyperion. I could not find any indications of this at either ArkivMusic or at Takács’s website.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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