CD of the week: Schubert Quintet D956; Quartettsatz D703

The Sunday Times
By Hugh Canning
October 28, 2012

A Schubert quintet from arguable the greatest string quartet before the public today will have been long awaited, and it is characteristic of the Takács that they have held off until now, presumably after many performances with the chosen cellist colleague, Ralph Kirshbaum. The recording — wonderfully vivid and "present" — is all that one expects from the producer, Andrew Keener, and the quality of the playing and musical insights is superlative. Written during the last year of the composer's brief life, this awesome work remained unpublished and unperformed until 22 years after his death — like the "Great" C major Symphony, an "Alpine" peak that none of Shubert's contemporaries dared to climb. Lasting five minutes short of an hour, it remains one of the largest of chamber works, and most dramatic in conception: the ailing composer seems riven with turbulence in the opening allegro ma non troppo and the defiant scherzo, yet calmly serene in the outer section of the sublime adagio. The sonorities the Takács players and Kirshbaum bring to this great music are quasi-orchestral, but they convey the intimate pages of the score in a manner that is both soul-baring and deeply moving. The famous Quartet Movement from an unfinished work in C minor has rarely been delivered with such febrile intensity.

© 2017 Takács Quartet