One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


alternatively Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34 (1864) [40:10]
String Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2 (c.1868-73) [33:11]
Stephen Hough (piano)
Takács Quartet: (Edward Dusinberre (violin I); Károly Schranz (violin II); Geraldine Walther (viola); András Fejér (cello))
rec. St. George’s, Brandon Hill, Bristol, 21-24 May 2007. DDD
HYPERION CDA67551 [73:19]

This is the second disc the Takács Quartet has recorded for Hyperion and also their second recording with Geraldine Walther as violist. Earlier they recorded the Schubert 13th and 14th quartets (see review). As readers will likely know, the original Takács Quartet, formed in 1975, was composed of four Hungarians with Gábor Takács-Nagy as first violin - hence the quartet’s name - and Gábor Ormai on viola. In 1993 Edward Dusinberre replaced Takács-Nagy and two years later Roger Tapping replaced Ormai. So, the quartet lost some of its Hungarian identity and became bi-national with the addition of the British members. In both of these earlier incarnations they recorded a broad repertoire for Decca. Their cycle of the Beethoven quartets received great acclaim. They also recorded the Brahms quartets and the quintet with András Schiff as pianist. In 2005, the American Geraldine Walther replaced Tapping as violist and the quartet became truly international. With this latest change in personnel, they switched recording companies and now record for Hyperion. Over the years they have remained one of the world’s premier chamber ensembles. That they continue to produce exciting music is witnessed by this latest release.
There have been plenty of fine recordings of the Brahms Piano Quintet. My introduction to the work was with the venerable Budapest String Quartet and Rudolf Serkin. The recent competition includes a recording by the Emerson with Leon Fleisher (DG) and an even newer one by the Artemis with Leif Ove Andsnes. Michael Cookson (see review) found Fleisher’s performance rather leaden, but praised the Emerson in both the quartets and quintet. The Takács bring out the impetuosity of the work and treat it as the composition of a young composer that it is. At first glance, their timing may seem longer than normal; this is because they take the repeat in the first movement, which adds an extra three minutes. Overall, the tempos are in the normal range. However, Stephen Hough and the quartet have more flexible tempi and a greater dynamic range than, say, the excellent Kodály Quartet with Jenö Jandó on Naxos. Hough’s piano is well integrated in the recording and he plays as one among equals, without soloistic grandstanding. Like the Budapest of yore, the Takács are not afraid to sacrifice perfect intonation occasionally to their expressive ends. In the third movement Scherzo the music positively flies off their bows and they relax ever so slightly for the Trio. Their interpretation of the last movement also plays up the work’s contrasts and really takes off at the final Presto non troppo. This is as exciting a version of the work as is available and the disc is made all the more attractive by its coupling. The smoother performance by the Kodály should not be ignored, however, especially as it is accompanied by an equally good recording of the Schumann, a more usual disc-mate.
Brahms’s Quartet No. 2 is for me the most approachable of his three works in the genre. It brings out his lyrical side more than the other two. Take, for example, the first movement’s second subject, the whole second movement and the third movement’s quasi-minuet main section. Here Brahms’s lyricism is given full measure. Then the finale contrasts with what has gone before; its energetic dance-like character ends the work with real vivacity. Geraldine Walther’s viola is particularly eloquent in this movement. Again the Takács play the first movement repeat, something that cannot be taken for granted. In many ways, this performance reminded me of the old Budapest Quartet recording form the 1960s, by duly emphasizing the lyrical while not neglecting the dramatic. It is a tremendous performance and one that sets the seal on a great disc. I assume the Takács will be recording the other two quartets in the near future. I had the privilege of hearing them perform the first quartet recently at the Barns at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia. Judging from that white-hot account, their recording will be something to await eagerly.
Leslie Wright


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3


Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.