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A Hungarian landmark rooted royally in the north German tradition, Dohnányi’s Op 1 (Budapest 1895) is a work of arresting maturity and grandiose cohesion. True, Schumann, Brahms and Liszt are never far away. Yet Dohnányi tools their language into a discourse ultimately personal in phraseology and ‘air’. In a ‘hats off’ moment, Brahms could not but admire.

Civilised and elevated, the Second Quintet (Berlin 1914) – in the composer’s black ‘Dies irae’ key before coming to rest in Habsburg twilight major, written against a background of fame and illicit passion (for Bronisław Huberman’s actress wife Elza) – is a three- movement construct journeying sonata, intermezzo and polyphonic roads organically referenced. Lisztian cyclic procedures bind the Second String Quartet (Berlin 1906) – curiously, though, it’s the aura of Tchaikovsky’s Andante cantabile that veils the emotional recesses.

This epic album is a triumph of performance, production and engineering, Hamelin remaining throughout the muscular structuralist and poet, the total master of his instrument in all its shades and strengths. Steeped in the give-and-take style underpinning Dohnányi’s late Romantic world, the Takács Quartet collaborates eloquently, the subtlety of paragraphing, cadences and fugal incursions in the quintets setting the bar high.

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