Schubert String Quintet (2011)


Tokyo String Quartet

FOLLOWING a flurry of activity as a composer of string quartets at the tender age of sixteen, Schubert wrote only three further quartets during his period of apprenticeship – one in each of the three succeeding years. Looking back on his early efforts in the summer of 1824, just a few months after he had completed his Death and the Maiden Quartet D.810, he seems to have had scant regard for them. Responding to a letter from his elder brother Ferdinand, who described his pleasure at rediscovering those youthful pieces, Schubert told him, ‘it would be better for you to keep to quartets other than mine, for there is nothing to them, except perhaps that you like them, as you like everything of mine’.

Schubert had made a brief return to string quartet writing at the end of 1820, in a manner that showed his ambition to produce a work more intense and dramatic than anything he had attempted in the genre before. But just as his first serious efforts to master the piano sonata some three years earlier had resulted in several aborted projects, so, too, the string quartet of 1820 was destined to remain unfinished. Over the string quartet, as over the piano sonata, loomed the giant figure of Beethoven (‘Who can do anything after Beethoven?’,2 Schubert once complained to his friend Josef von Spaun); and perhaps it was unwise of Schubert to have chosen to make his return to the quartet arena with a piece in C minor – the key Beethoven had made so much his own. In terms of its actual material the one portion of the work Schubert did manage to complete – the so-called Quarttetsatz, or ‘Quartet Movement’, D.703 – is of the highest quality, though it is possible that he remained dissatisfied with its unorthodox form. At any rate, he abandoned the score after having composed no more than forty bars of its slow movement. The opening Allegro was published for the first time in 1870, more than forty years after Schubert’s death, while the fragmentary slow movement did not appear in print until 1897, when it was issued in the value to that of the ‘Unfinished’ Symphony.


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Tokyo String Quartet

Regarded as one of the supreme chamber ensembles of the world, the Tokyo String Quartet has captivated audiences and critics alike since it was founded 42 years ago. Performing over a hundred concerts worldwide each season, the quartet has a devoted international following that includes the major capitals of the world and extends to all four corners, from Australia to Estonia to Scandinavia and the Far East. The Tokyo Quartet has served on the faculty at the Yale School of Music since 1976 and is quartet-in-residence at New York’s 92nd Street Y. Deeply committed to coaching young string quartets, the musicians regularly conduct master classes throughout NorthAmerica, Europe and Japan.
 Officially formed in 1969 at the Juilliard School of Music, the Tokyo String Quartet traces its origins to the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, where the founding members were profoundly influenced by Professor Hideo Saito. Soon after its formation, the quartet won First Prize at the Coleman Competition, the Munich Competition and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions. An exclusive collaboration with Deutsche Grammophon (more than 40 landmark recordings) firmly established it as one of the world’s leading quartets. The ensemble now records for harmonia mundi usa and has recently concluded an acclaimed cycle of Beethoven’s complete string quartets.

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Schubert String Quintet (2011)


Tokyo String Quartet


This is not surface playing that hits the well-known high spots and then cruises along for long stretches-the players address the smallest details with equal intensity... the staggering beauty of the phrasing and seamless unanimity... is sublime.

Laurence Vittes

    PS Tracks

I can’t imagine audiophiles anywhere not rejoicing over the sonics and interpretations in the newest release from the Tokyo String Quartet...

Lawrence Schenbeck

    American Record Guide

One of the reasons I have always liked the Tokyo Quartet a great deal is their way of letting the music unfold. They never sound forced; they never try to show off how powerful they can sound or how vehemently they can express themselves. There is a sweetness to their sound and a naturalness to the flow when they play anything... this is a very good recording, and the SACD sound is glorious. If you like the sweet and rather light sound of this group, you will find it perfect for Schubert...



The Tokyo String Quartet with David Watkin promise much as they traverse the slow harmonic progression that opens the first movement, dynamic shifts expertly weighed, SACD recording spaciously lifelike… The exposition repeat has the last chord omitted the second time round. It's an interpretative decision that has a ring of certitude, as does the finale, where the group respond to a kaleidoscope of changes with unflustered command. _They finish as impressively as they begin...

Nalen Anthoni

    Audiophile Audition

Outstanding performances of these much-recorded masterworks... Tokyo manages to convey that sense of competing emotions in a constant state of tension which is typically Schubertian.

Lee Passarella

    Michael Tanner -

An intense sweeping account...

Michael Tanner

    Telegraph -

This glorious work is played with impressive freedom of expression... The seraphic slow movement is especially fine.

This glorious work is played with impressive freedom of expression... The seraphic slow movement is especially fine.

    International Record Review

In every way it is an outstanding disc.

Mortimer H. Frank

    Sunday Times

[An] impressive performance...

David Cairns

    Midwest Record

A deep, dramatic reading that's flawless throughout, this is first class... The high octane pairing of the players and the music was a match made in heaven... Killer stuff.

Chris Spector

Schubert String Quintet (2011)


Tokyo String Quartet

Digital Converters: Meithner DSD AD/DA
Producer: Robina G. Young
Recording Engineer: Brad Michel
Recording location: Air Studios, Lyndhust Hall, London, UK
Recording Software: Pyramix
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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HMU907427: Schubert String Quintet
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Quintet In C Major, D.956 - I. Allegro ma non troppo
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Quintet In C Major, D.956 - II. Adagio
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Quintet In C Major, D.956 - III. Scherzo: Presto -Trio: andante sostenuto
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Quintet In C Major, D.956 - IV. Allegretto
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"Quartet in C Minor, D. 703 ""Quartettsatz"" - I. Allegro"
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"Quartet in C Minor, D. 703 ""Quartettsatz"" - II. Andante - fragment"
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