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.

London Guardian
By Rian Evans
January 26, 2012

The Takács Quartet are matchless, their supreme artistry manifest at every level. In any quartet, players' individual traits are always apparent, yet, with the Takács, every facet of their musicianship serves the music in such a way that the character and personality of the composer emerges with extraordinary intensity. The most familiar music takes on a new purity and significance.

At their Pittville Pump Room recital, the Takács balanced works by Haydn and Dvořák of such genial disposition as to make the world seem a better place. Haydn's Lark Quartet, Op 64, No 5 was conceived as a vehicle for the brilliant violinist Johann Tost. Edward Dusinberre wears his virtuosity so lightly that it's easy to take it for granted, but this performance was remarkable for the differing tone-colours with which he invested successive violin themes, and the sympathetic responses of the other three voices pointing up the warp and weft of the musical fabric.

Fono Forum – Germany
By Marcus Stäbler

Oh, how simply magnificent it is, that warm, rich sound at the beginning of the Andante of the A minor Quartet by Brahms! It is miraculous how the four musicians here manage to paint - or rather bow - such a creamy legato, without laying it on even a smidgin too thick. This is romantic espressivo playing at tis very best. Without question, even in this thirty-third year of its existence, and after a few reshuffles, the Hungarian-American Takács Quartet hast lost none of its great qualities - although the recordings the ensemble has made since its move to Hyperion in 2005 have shown a slight tendency towards a rather more economical use of means: the vibrato-rich opulence has given way a little to a more slimlined, transparent tone, but without the four string-players giving up their noble, dark-timbred 'Takács sound.'

The New York Times
By Anthony Tommasini

Philip Roth’s ruminative 2006 novel “Everyman” is the story of a nameless, multi-divorced advertising man in New Jersey grappling with family estrangement, illness and death. When Edward Dusinberre, a violinist from the Takács Quartet, read it, he was struck by what he perceived as its richly musical qualities. In particular three scenes that take place at a run-down cemetery near the New Jersey Turnpike — the “butt end of an airport,” to quote the novel — reminded Mr. Dusinberre of the three sections of a sonata.

The opening of the book, which depicts the makeshift funeral service for Mr. Roth’s everyman, was like an exposition, Mr. Dusinberre felt. A flashback that shows the protagonist at the funeral of his father, an earnest Jewish diamond merchant, was like a development. And a late scene in which the everyman becomes involved in a long conversation with an affable black gravedigger at the cemetery, was like a recapitulation. So Mr. Dusinberre conceived a program for the Takács that would intersperse readings of those sections with short works for string quartet by Arvo Part and Philip Glass. “Everyman” would be paired with a performance of another meditation on mortality, Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” Quartet.

London Guardian
By Andrew Clements
October 24, 2012

Six years ago, the Takács's first disc for Hyperion was devoted to Schubert – his A minor and D minor Quartets. Their return to that composer now, with a performance of what is arguably the greatest of all his chamber works, has been well worth the wait, for though the CD catalogue already includes a number of treasurable versions of the C major Quintet from all epochs of recording history, there is always room for one that shows the typical Takács virtues of insight and intelligence, combined with an almost supernatural unity of musical purpose.

The Times – London
By Geoff Brown
November 18, 2011

Last month in London the Takács Quartet could be heard live, beavering through the complete Bartók string quartets. Two seasons before, they gave us a complete Beethoven cycle, to the usual wild acclaim. High fibre music, all of it. The arrival of two CDs featuring Haydn's Op 71 and Op 74 quartets—six quartets in all, from a catalogue of 68—might suggest that the Takács musicians are now relaxing and twiddling their thumbs. For isn't Haydn easy listening? Music to listen to while you iron bedsheets or bake a cake?

Not so. Least of all when the music is being played by this superlative group, formed in Hungary 36 years ago, now based in Colorado. In these hugely civilised and sophisticated quartets of 1793, written for performance in London, they make a tasty meal of everything, even something as seemingly innocent as the two-chord gesture at the beginning of Op 74 No 1.

Boston Globe
By Matthew Guerrieri
February 21, 2011

The Takács Quartet's concert on Friday had a defiantly retro feel, at least in comparison with the kind of high-concept thematic programming increasingly prevalent in classical music performance. (Indeed, the group has shown aptitude for such programming — on its last visit to Boston, it explored the Hungarian folk roots of Bela Bártok.) This season's offering was, instead, a well-curated selection from across the long quartet tradition, a dialogue between historical repertoires.

The opener, in a way, told the quartet's own origin story: Joseph Haydn's D-major Quartet, Op. 71, No. 2, was one of a half-dozen quartets composed in 1793, the first such works expressly intended for public performance rather than private music-making. Haydn's razzle-dazzle — a symphonic-style slow introduction, intricate counterpoint designed less as interesting byplay and more as impressive collective fluidity — was tossed off with flair, marked by the Takács's particular makeup: The inner parts are, in many ways, more extroverted than the outer. Second violinist Károly Schranz tended toward sharp-edged bowing, a firmly enunciated rhetoric; violist Geraldine Walther showed off a big sound and expansive phrasing. Surrounded by first violinist Edward Dusinberre's elegant, lean brightness and cellist András Fejér's smooth warmth, it produced energy that percolated from the center. The group eschewed homogeneity, letting the buzz of distinct personalities predominate.

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