Beethoven: String Quartets Op. 59

Beethoven: String Quartets Op. 59 "Razumovsky" & Op. 74 "Harp"

by Takács String Quartet
     
 

There is something charmingly old-fashioned about the Takács Quartet's Beethoven. They don't play with the amped-up electricity of the Emerson, the loose-limbed lyricism of the Quartetto Italiano, or the emotional sumptuousness of the See more details below

Overview

There is something charmingly old-fashioned about the Takács Quartet's Beethoven. They don't play with the amped-up electricity of the Emerson, the loose-limbed lyricism of the Quartetto Italiano, or the emotional sumptuousness of the Cleveland. In fact, attempting to find an apt comparison, one must reach all the way back to the legendary 1930s recordings of the Busch Quartet. The Takács's Beethoven has a similarly plainspoken manner -- though the intensity is there, and ample expressive warmth -- that seems to strip away all superfluous gestures. This is immediately apparent in the development section of the opening movement of the first "Razumovsky" Quartet (Op. 59, No. 1), where a feeling of tension is created without pushing or pulling, merely by allowing Beethoven's melodic play to speak clearly. It is immensely gratifying music making -- a performance to live with. The rest of the set, which includes the "Harp" Quartet, Op. 74 (but not the F Minor, Op. 95, which will be issued with the Late works), is equally impressive. The "Harp" is wonderfully relaxed, yet the strings never go slack. Even in the presto finale of Op. 59, No. 2 (E Minor), the tempo is lively without being driven too hard. This is the first installment of the Takács Beethoven cycle, due for completion in 2004. Interestingly, there is a long list of "sponsors" in the back of the booklet -- not surprising, perhaps, given the cost of recording and releasing a set like this today. Luckily, there are patrons willing to support such a project, and, judging by this first volume, their money was very well spent.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
Hard as it is to believe, Decca has never released a complete cycle of all Beethoven's string quartets. But then Decca has never been a chamber music label: it has had a history of spectacular opera and orchestral recordings, but most of its string quartet recordings were quietly released on its budget label. And even at a budget price, no Decca artist ever took on the whole Beethoven cycle. Thus, this recording of Beethoven's Op. 59 and 74 quartets by the Tak�cs Quartet is the first of a projected cycle of all the Beethoven quartets ever undertaken by a Decca artist. It was worth the wait. The Tak�cs' combination of two Hungarian and two English players has taken some time to settle, but the group is now at the top of its form with the edgier attacks of the English players wholly fused with the warm sonorities of the Hungarians. From a technical point of view, their performances are easily the equal of the best ever recorded: listen to their reckless but brilliant dash through fugue at the end of Op. 59/3. More importantly, their interpretations rival the best ever recorded: the emotional depths of the Adagio molto e mesto from Op. 59/1 and the starry heights of the Molto adagio of Op. 59/2 are as abysmal as they are sublime. And most importantly, all of the Tak�cs' performances are ideally scaled: the intellectual and spiritual power of their Op. 59 quartets is matched by the graced and elegance of their Op. 74 quartet. If it has taken more than half a century for Decca to start a cycle of the Beethoven quartets, hopefully it will not take another half century to finish this one.
Gramophone - Rob Cowan
I marvel at how the Takács balance the the music's vertical and horizontal aspects, long-breathed contrapuntal lines gliding serenely above a sharp, occaisionally dramatic accompaniment -- masterful playing indeed and typical of this first lap of the Takács' projected Beethoven cycle.
International Record Review - Peter Branscombe
On the evidence of these two discs, this is going to be a very desirable Beethoven cycle.... Future issues in this series will be keenly awaited.

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/14/2002
Label:
Philips
UPC:
0028947084723
catalogNumber:
470847
Rank:
53103

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. String Quartet No. 7 in F major ("Rasumovsky 1") Op. 59/1  - Ludwig van Beethoven  -  Takács String Quartet  - Mark Millington
  2. String Quartet No. 10 in E flat major ("Harp"), Op. 74  - Ludwig van Beethoven  -  Takács String Quartet  - Mark Millington
  3. String Quartet No. 8 in E minor ("Rasumovsky 2"), Op. 59/2  - Ludwig van Beethoven  -  Takács String Quartet  - Mark Millington
  4. String Quartet No. 9 in C major ("Rasumovsky 3") Op. 59/3  - Ludwig van Beethoven  -  Takács String Quartet  - Mark Millington

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