Kate Wakeling
BBC Music Magazine
August 2023

The last five years have brought considerable change for the Takács Quartet, with a new violist and second violinist now installed. This album finds the quartet in excellent shape, with their clarity of idea and warmth of sound as strong as ever.

Coleridge-Taylor’s five Fantasiestücke, Op 5 dates from 1895, when the composer was still studying at the Royal College of Music. It is a charming and skilful work, and the Takács Quartet brings a rich variety of colours to the suite. The lyrical second movement is particularly striking in being cast in 5/4—possibly inspired by Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathétique’ Symphony which was heard for the first time in London shortly before Coleridge-Taylor began the piece. The quartet’s account of the movement is richly sonorous and perfectly balanced, while the ensemble finds a real fizz of excitement in the brisk ‘Humoresque’ that follows.

Composed in the same year, Dvořák’s String Quartet in G major, Op 106 was written shortly after the composer’s return to Prague after his three-year stint in New York. Unlike the F major ‘American’ Quartet, there is little trace here of Dvořák’s ‘New World’ experience; rather it is a work that sings with relief at his homecoming. This performance is by turns punchy, lyrical and emotionally direct, with some bold exploration of timbre, particularly in the percussive Scherzo.

The selection closes with Dvořák’s earlier Andante apassionato—a rejected slow movement from the Quartet in A minor, Op 12. It is a reflective close to this exuberant album, and aptly showcases the Takács Quartet abiding technical assurance and emotional range.