The New York Times
By Zachary Woolfe
January 21, 2014

The Takács Quartet played Bartok, long one of its specialties, in two superb concerts over the weekend at Zankel Hall. Not only was the music making excellent, but I was also reminded throughout the performances of the clean, resonant acoustics of this subterranean space, which is celebrating its 10th season.

On Sunday afternoon, both an impassioned cello line and its glassy accompaniment sounded lucid and balanced in the icy expanse of the Fourth Quartet’s central slow movement, just one of many moments in which Zankel ideally amplified the Takács ensemble’s clear, lithe sound. But acoustics are nothing without gifted musicians to fill them, and this group played with febrile attack and firm confidence, even in swerves like the end of the Sixth Quartet’s opening movement, when vivacious bustle turns abruptly to a delicate conclusion.

London Guardian
By Fiona Maddocks
April 26, 2014

Takács Quartet, Lawrence Power (viola) — Hyperion

The soaring, optimistic opening of Brahms's String Quintet No 2 in G major, Op 111 is one of the great moments in chamber music: upper strings, enriched with the addition of a second viola, shimmer and quiver, while the cello utters a plunging, jumping melody in G major. This mood of excitement continues, with a magnificent, lyrical violin tune, almost without let-up – a wistful, minor key second subject notwithstanding – to the end of this long, burgeoning first movement. It's reason enough to try this inspiring Takács Quartet disc with Lawrence Power as guest viola, his big-boned sound matching the expressive energy of the Takács's own Geraldine Walther. The String Quintet No 1 in F major is less driven, more wistful and just as captivating.

The Sunday Times
May 18, 2014

Shostakovich's weighty, mournful String Quartet No. 2 in A "a sort of Jewish lament" formed an understated symmetry with Beethoven's Op. 132 in A minor, with its thanksgiving song and use, like Shostakovich's second movement, of violin recitatives; while in-between came the ear-cleansing distillation of Beethovenian classicism that is Webern's Five Movements, Op. 5. I've never been more impressed and moved by the Takacs than in its endlessly thoughtful reading of the Beethoven, the individual lines seeming maximally liberated yet impeccable cohesive.

The Strad
By David Denton
March 3, 2014

Having passed through a period when I favoured the exceptionally dramatic view of Britten’s three quartets from the Belcea Quartet (EMI), I found more to enjoy with the arrival of a literal approach to the printed scores from the Maggini Quartet (Naxos). Now we have the best of both worlds in this new recording from the Takács Quartet.

Although at times the players employ daringly fast tempos, as in the opening movement of the First Quartet, their clarity and rhythmic exactitude remove any sense of undue haste. The third movement is also taken much quicker than in the Maggini’s more intense reading, and by lightening the texture they lessen the contrast with a finale that can easily sound frothy in other hands.

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.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer
By Donald Rosenberg
March 20, 2013

The Takács Quartet long has been one of the most eloquent ensembles in the string-quartet world. The musicians apply such expressive depth and technical refinement to everything they touch that you wouldn't think more than the Takács on one program would be necessary.

But what's wrong with a little artistic icing on the chamber-music cake? On the second half of its concert Tuesday for the Cleveland Chamber Music Society at Plymouth Heights in Shaker Heights, the Takács welcomed pianist Garrick Ohlsson for a probing performance of Brahms' Quintet in F minor, Op. 34.

Washington Post
By Anne Midgette
November 14, 2012

There’s no checklist of the elements that make up a good musical performance, but one thing I find myself focusing on more and more these days is delight. It’s easy for a musician to lose sight of delight, particularly in great works about serious things. But even serious music is often delightful. We listen, in part, for those moments when a score smiles unexpectedly and frees itself from the earth’s gravity.

And if I had to pin down just what it was that made the Takács Quartet’s performance at the Library of Congress on Tuesday night quite so wonderful, I’d call it delight. Not that it was a particularly funny or light-hearted program: Schubert’s “Rosamunde” quartet (his 13th); Benjamin Britten’s coltish, ardent, sprawling first quartet; and Shostakovich’s piano quintet, with the marvelous pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin. And not that the musicians made light of it. But they did keep something in reserve, so that rather than merely pouring their hearts into the notes, they left themselves, and their listeners, enough room to savor them. So when Edward Dusinberre, the first violinist, floated a clear line over the warmer sound of Karoly Schranz’s second violin in the Schubert, there was an extra frisson to the “aha!” moment.

The Observer
By Fiona Maddocks

Schumann's gift for writing piano music or voice didn't so naturally extend to chamber music and he hesitated before venturing into the form. Yet his virtuosic Piano Quintet is one of the glories of the repertoire. The soaring opening theme, quickly evolving into a tender cello melody, sets the mood of extrovert confidence, an emotion by no means typical of this troubled composer. The Takács and Hamelin, at once delicate and muscular, combine to spellbinding effect. The earlier String Quartet Op. 41 No. 3 is played with wistful tenderness.

Gramophone Magazine
By David Threasher

Outstanding musicianship and virtuosity abound on this stunning disc

If I could play the piano like Marc-André Hamelin, I'd want to blare out my virtuosity at every opportunity. That Hamelin himself does precisely the opposite is yet again testament to his profound musicianship. He and the Takács Quartet have been touring with Schumann's Piano Quintet and this shows in the deep rapport they demonstrate in this recording of the work. Not that Hamelin isn't centre stage, with the Quartet deployed widely across the stereo spectrum; but the sense is of true chamber interplay between fice equals. Hamelin scampers and thunders by turns but not once does he upstage the string players. The direct comparison is with Leif Ove Andsnes and the Artemis Quartet, winners of the Gramophone Chamber Music Award last year, and the new recording runs them close. Hamelin and the Takács take a more rhapsodic approach to tempi and rubato but, like their rivals, keep clear sight of the work's large-scale structure. While no one will prise Andsnes from my sweaty palms in a hurry, Hamelin and the Takács will remain within easy reach for some time, I'm sure.

International Record Review
By Nigel Simeone

This Hyperion release celebrates the chamber music composed by Schumann in 1842, the year in which he wrote the three String Quartets, Op. 41, the Piano Quintet, Op. 44 and the Piano Quartet, Op. 47. The Takács Quartet play the third of the String Quartets (in A major) and the Piano Quintet, in which the quartet is joined by Marc-André Hamelin. While Schumann was mot the first composer to write a quintet for piano and strings, his Op. 44 is the earliest to establish itself in the repertoire, with its innovative combination of chamber-music intimacy and symphonic grandeur. The performance here is deeply satisfying.

The Piano Quintet is a work that needs a judicious mix of expressiveness and rhythmic control if it is to come across as powerfully as it should, and the Takács and Hamelin have just the right combination of tensile strength and lyrical ardour. Plenty other recordings offer passion, but a surprising number of them sacrifice rhythmic discipline in the process. With the present performers, the poise and quality of the playing is exceptional throughout--nowhere more so than in the Scherzo, which is most excitingly done, not least because the playing has such discipline as well as energy.

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