Robert Stove
Limelight, Australia
September 2016

Whilst Debussy's and Ravel's quartets have been constant discmates since the LP epoch, there is greater artistic justification for hearing Debussy coupled with Franck's while alarming (yet classically built) quartet-plus-piano masterpiece, given that Debussy took ages to expunge Franck's influence from his system.

The Franck Quintet might or might not have been a coded love-letter to the composer's pupil Augusta Holmès, but it transcends all attempts at biographical reductionism. By comparison the Debussy, however beguiling, can seem slightly incoherent.

That Marc-André Hamelin meets Franck's punitive technical demands was to be expected. Less predictable (since few will have heard Hamelin in chamber music before) is his collaborative panache.

This admirably vivid performance never conveys the feeling of pianist and colleagues going their separate ways. Rather, they catch fire from each other's interactions.

As for the Debussy, the Takács instrumentalists give—thank goodness—the sense that they have never heard of wishy-washy terms like 'Impressionism'. They often dare to be downright harsh, above all in the pizzicato-dominated second movement. This is a good account to reassure those who think themselves over-familiar with the composition. The recorded sound, somewhat dry (and markedly kinder to the piano than to the strings), nowhere detracts from the always praiseworthy music-making.