There’s always room in the catalog for a beautiful new performance of this quintet. The Takács Quartet and Ralph Kirshbaum sound as though they’ve been playing together for years. The two cellists match timbres expertly in the first movement’s second subject, and the performance is paced so that the exposition repeat doesn’t make the movement sound too long. The Adagio, similarly, has stillness but not stasis, and the loud central eruption registers with impressive impact. The wide dynamic range tells especially successfully in the scherzo—gutsy, vibrant playing here—while the players keep the finale moving vigorously right up to the final bar. Many performances of this work do not bother to offer a coupling, but the QuartettsatzRead more makes a logical disc-mate, just as well played, especially as its C minor tonality pairs well with the Quintet’s C major.
There are so many great performances of Schubert’s Quintet, and everyone will have their personal favorite. It’s impossible to say that this one is the best, but it’s certainly up there with the most impressive versions available. My own preference for the Alban Berg Quartett with Heinrich Schiff (EMI) remains unshaken, but a top-notch performance ultimately speaks for itself. I will return to this excellently engineered disc with pleasure, and so will you.
Quintet for Strings in C major, Op. 163/D 956by Franz Schubert
Ralph Kirshbaum (Cello)
Takács String Quartet
Period: Romantic Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria
Quartet for Strings no 12 in C minor, D 703/Op. posth "Quartettsatz"by Franz Schubert
Takács String Quartet
Period: Romantic Written: 1820; Vienna, Austria
Featured Sound Samples
String Quintet: I. Allegro ma non troppo
String Quintet: II. Adagio
Average Customer Review: ( 3 Customer Reviews )
One of the BestJune 11, 2013By Mary Lynn H. (San Antonio, TX)See All My Reviews"This is excellent. I'm new to this music and am still acquiring a taste for it but this version of the D956 Quintet is fabulous. I have listened to the Lindsays with Cummings and the Rostropovich versions and this one is superior to both. The sound of the CD is intimate and clear. In fact in some places you can hear breathing. I'm not sure if that's a plus or minus but I would recommend this version highly."Report Abuse
Fire & IceDecember 11, 2012By Paul Breslin (Evanston, IL)See All My Reviews"I cannot agree with the previous reviewer, who found this performance impersonal. I grew up listening to the Budapest, Vegh, and Hungarian quartets, and one of the things I like about the Takacs is that they seem rooted in an Old World style of interpretation. Yes, Schubert's string quintet is a "romantic" piece, but it requires imperious power as well as lyrical introspection. It is full of abrupt juxtapositions of contrasting moods. My previous favorite was the Alban Berg Quartet with Heinrich Schiff providing the extra cello. It is beautifully proportioned, and the slow movement seems to stop time, as it does in the best versions. I have only two reservations about it. First of all, it has the slightly glassy sound typical of early digital recording, and in the first movement, the famous cello theme doesn't bloom and expand as much as one might wish. The Takacs performance is beautifully recorded, and it gives the cello theme space to breathe. It balances ardor and architecture, energy and repose, about as well as any I've heard. And it includes the Quartettsatz, the impressive first movement for a string quartet that didn't get written. Other good modern versions: the Lindsay Quartet with Douglas Cummings is more expansive than either the Berg or the Takacs, taking over 17 minutes for the slow movement (vs. the Takacs' 14:31). If you think the Takacs and Berg aren't "romantic" enough, you might like that one. However, the playing isn't as impeccable as that of the Berg or the Takacs, and first violinist Peter Cropper's tone is a taste I've never quite managed to acquire. There's the Guarneri, very lyrical, with that sense of suspended time in the slow movement, but they don't project the more eruptive moments as strongly as the others I've mentioned. Also an old mono recording involving Pablo Casals, Paul Tortelier, Isaac Stern, Alexander Schneider, and Milton Katims. There's a great performance in there somewhere, but on the CD version I acquired in the 90s, it is dimly audible through the sonic murk. Possibly more recent transfers have cleaned it up, but I'd be surprised if any remastering could turn this into a "listening to," rather than "listening through," experience. Have just had my first listen to the new version by the Arcanto Quartet, and I think it will be joining the Berg and Takacs as my preferred versions. I got it not just because it received excellent reviews, but because I've heard the Arcanto's cellist,Jean-Guihen Queyras, and its violist, Tabea Zimmerman, as soloists and thought both extraordinary. Turns out the violinists and the added cello (a former pupil of Queyras) are worthy partners to these two distinguished musicians."Report Abuse
Schubert 21st Century StyleDecember 8, 2012By Northild White (Cumming, GA)See All My Reviews"I cannot get used to the modern interpretations of a very romantic Schubert String Quintet. I noticed the new style about 25 years ago and it almost hurts, how the individual artists attack their instruments. I am sorry, but it is Schubert and "Romantic" and not Carl Orff or Stravinski. The Adagio was not quite as harsh. Whoever likes the new "Attack your Instrument" and shine as a soloist, more power to you! They are all excellent soloist, but I just prefer old school."Report Abuse