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One could hardly ask for two more thoughtful and experienced quartets than the Takács and Bridge for this chamber music and their depth of understanding pays offin all directions. While Gurney’s restless quartet and Beach’s Quintet (New English rather than Old English, so to speak) are less familiar, they fit firmly into the territory explored by Elgar in one of his most profound works. There is a big difference, though, in the way the quartets interpret the word Adagio. In the Bridge’s Gurney the music keeps moving, if at a stroll, while the Takács barely shuffle. The aim, to reflect the solemnity and introspection of the Elgar and Beach Quintets, is admirable and the effect is deeply moving on first listening, but after a while they can sound stuck. Oddly the Takács linger over this movement but take the rest of the Beach faster than the recent Coull Quartet’s recording with Clelia Iruzun on Somm. Despite my quibble, this is one of the most distinguished readings of the Elgar for many years. The Takács are wise to have Garrick Ohlsson as a partner. He listens and responds with passion. The piano part requires muscular virtuosity as well as care and Ohlsson is in his element.

Simon Mundy Read the full review on Agora Classica

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