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  • Schubert: Quintet in C, d. 956
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Schubert: Quintet in C, d. 956


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Audio CD, March 14, 1989
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Editorial Reviews

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There's no exposition repeat in the first movement, and no additional coupling, which means that for some people this disc will seem to offer short measure. That's an illusion, for this is a truly great performance of Schubert's magnificent string quintet, and it's hard to imagine a more fulfilling listening experience. Even without the repeats, the piece is nearly 50 minutes long, and such is the concentration and intensity conveyed in this performance that time seems to stand still, particularly in the haunting slow movement. In addition to the superb playing, EMI seems to have caught the players in an ideal acoustic environment--the sound has a depth and richness unmatched on disc elsewhere. --David Hurwitz

1. Qnt in C, D.956 for 2 vns, va and 2 vcs: I. Allegro ma non troppo
2. Qnt in C, D.956 for 2 vns, va and 2 vcs II. Adagio
3. Qnt in C, D.956 for 2 vns, va and 2 vcs: III. Scherzo (Presto) & Trio...
4. Qnt in C, D.956 for 2 vns, va and 2 vcs: IV. Allegretto

Product Details

  • Performer: Alban Berg Quartet, Heinrich Schiff (cello)
  • Composer: Franz Schubert
  • Audio CD (March 14, 1989)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Angel Records / EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B000002RMP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,226 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Discophage TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 24, 2012
Recorded in 1983, this version of Schubert's C-Major Quintet by the Alban Berg Quartet augmented of Heinrich Schiff opened the CD era (I believe it was even the first one ever to be recorded digital rather than analog), and it made a splash. Understandably. ABQ's first movement has all the features of the great versions, and specifically the combination of drama, lyricism, AND structural integrity, the realization of both moods, the dramatic and the lyrical, being achieved by phrasings and expression and not by any coaxing of tempi, lingering on the more lyrical passages or conspicuous accelerating in the moments of drama. Among all the versions recorded before this one, the only other ones that had achieved something similar before were the Melos Quartet and Rostropovich in 1977 (but with less crispness of articulation from Rostropovich than from Schiff, see my review of Schubert: String Quintet In C Major, D. 956) and the unexpected Chilingirian Quartet in 1981 (String Quintet in C); but ABQ is even more vehement and dramatic than Melos (and slightly more than Chilingirian) in the violient shouts after the repeat bar, at 5:35 and other similar passages, if only because EMI's sonics are considerably closer and more vivid with a touch of glare even, to a point that some listeners may feel as aggressive.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bob e. on October 5, 2011
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more congested by the additional instrument, this release maintains schubert's quality inspiration found in the leaner quartets yet doesn't fall into the dense solid chunk that brahms' two sextets exhibit. the challenge of writing-in a fifth part without losing individual audible delineation creates a subtle tension (itself an artistic comment/device implying the exigencies of everyday hardship- economic, romantic, creative- as inseparable from the desired melody/beauty/harmony). >>>>this is a vital classical music composition and terrific level of performance; it is very reasonably priced, in good sound. a solid masterpiece of excellent schubert. the alban berg quartett is to be commended for establishing chamber music touchstones of quality in the era of good sound. i thank santa fe listener especially among other adept reviewers for committing an excellent command of essential classical music to the typed screen for all to consider.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 25, 1998
The Berg Quartet takes a cool and distant approach to this passionate music. The effect is interesting, and definitely worth hearing. They discover sounds in this music that no one else has found; for example, in the beginning of the Adagio they get a truly ethereal sound. This performance is poles apart from their recent stunning and passionate live recordings of Schubert quartets. The recording is very good (no more)--comparable to the other EMI recordings of the Berg in the 80s.
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This has long been the established top recommendation for Schubert's greatest chamber work and I very much doubt whether anyone coming new to the work would find fault with it. However, there are one or two considerations that might give the experienced listener pause: first, as it was amongst the very first chamber music recordings to be released in digital format, there is an element of shrillness about the sound and subsequent versions have greater depth. Secondly, as was the custom of the time - this was recorded in 1982 - the first movement repeat is not taken, Thirdly, although it is currently available cheaply, there is no coupling .

Interpretatively, I hear very little difference between the playing hear and my favourite version from the Ensemble Villa Musica on Naxos, but the latter wins regarding all three of my reservations: the sound for Naxos is superlative, the repeat is taken and there is a bonus in the form of the admittedly slight but pleasing String Trio D. 584. Otherwise, the approaches of both are very similar although the EVM marginally more lyrical and expressive.

In short, this remains an excellent recording but does not necessarily exceed the competition for the reasons I give above; there are, of course, many other recordings by other great ensembles in superior sound which I have not discussed,confining myself to comparison with own preferred version. The best historical account by far remains the 1951 mono recording by the Hollywood Quartet but this music deserves finest sound and that is what the general listener demands.
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