WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Beethoven: Streichquartette Op 127 & 132 / Hagen Quartett

Release Date: 10/11/2005 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 4775705   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Veronika HagenLukas HagenRainer SchmidtClemens Hagen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hagen String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Strikingly individual and commanding - what makes these performances arresting is their suggestion of how late-period Beethoven is not as different from his earlier output as we are sometimes led to think.

Though strikingly individual in many respects, this is a commanding release. For one thing, it offers as fine a sonic image of a string quartet as I have ever encountered. The perspective is very close, yet not so claustrophobic as to make the musicians’ breathing seem like a fifth instrument. As a result, the group sounds as if it is in one’s room rather than in a small hall, permitting an exceptional clarity of each voice and of the polyphonic texture. Read more Doubtless, this is as much a tribute to the players themselves as to the superior engineering.

What makes these performances arresting is their suggestion of how late-period Beethoven is not as different from his earlier output as we are sometimes led to think.

Put differently, these are tough aggressive readings, assertive in their slashing fortes and eruptive observance of the music’s dynamic contrasts. Tempos in outer movements have an extroverted insistence; that of op. 127 is made to sound like a close relative of the “Eroica” Symphony or “Emperor” Concerto. And the Hagen’s rhythmic steadiness gives a tight coherence to segments that, when treated more freely, can seem sectional. This is certainly true for the first movement of op. 132 and the slow movements of both scores, especially that of op. 127, a set of variations that hang together better here than in any other performance I know. Also refreshingly apt is the Hagen’s prevailing sonority. In addition to its beautifully delineated voicing, the group produces a tone whose purity is sometimes redolent of period instruments, a feature that seems ideally suited to some of this music’s more otherworldly passages. And an occasional use of portamento is equally judicious One curiosity about the insert notes, which assign a tempo indication of Allegro comodo to the last movement of op. 127; all the scores I’ve seen simply have a heading of “Finale,” with a marking Allegro con moto withheld for the movement’s coda. (Comments anyone?) This is not, of course, a blemish on this admirable release. While it makes me regret having missed the first two releases in this cycle, it promotes anticipation of those to come.

FANFARE: Mortimer H. Frank
Read less

Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 12 in E flat major, Op. 127 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Veronika Hagen (Viola), Lukas Hagen (Violin), Rainer Schmidt (Violin),
Clemens Hagen (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hagen String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1823-1825; Vienna, Austria 
Quartet for Strings no 15 in A minor, Op. 132 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Rainer Schmidt (Violin), Veronika Hagen (Viola), Clemens Hagen (Cello),
Lukas Hagen (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hagen String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1825; Vienna, Austria 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title