Guarneri Quartet

Schubert: String Quintet; Quartettsatz

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A recording from 1975, the Guarneri Quartet's rendition of Schubert's String Quintet in C, D. 956, has many good points in its favor, but two drawbacks that weigh against it. Regarding its strengths, the ensemble -- enriched by the presence of cellist Leonard Rose -- is deeply expressive and powerfully vigorous where it counts, and the performance has the full spiritual dimensions one expects in Schubert's chamber masterpiece. The players' parts are distinct and always clear, and at no time do they seem out of balance; this fine equilibrium is most apparent in the luminous Adagio and the profoundly moving Trio of the third movement. However, there is some audible humming during the Allegro ma non troppo, the Scherzo, and the Allegretto, which some listeners may find distracting. Furthermore, the analog sound is a little dry and lacking natural resonance, and the absorbent acoustic makes the Guarneri's cutoffs drop out too quickly into airless silence. The musicians' virtues are evident in the 1970 recording of Schubert's "Quartettsatz," D. 703, which the quartet plays with a mixture of sweet lyricism and nervous agitation. Yet the vice of humming also intrudes in this performance, and the sound quality is only a little more resonant than in the Quintet.

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