Notes and Editorial Reviews
Recorded live at the Grosser Saal, Mozarteum, Salzburg, 26 January 2000
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Digital Dolby 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 72 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)
R E V I E W:
String Quartet No. 16.
Hagen Qrt; Sabine Meyer (cl)
MEDICI ARTS 2072318 (DVD: 72:00) Live: Salzburg 1/26/2000
Writing in 29:4 about the Hagen’s fine CD accounts of Beethoven Quartets Nos. 12 and 15, I noted two salient features of its approach: a sonority that in its freedom from lushness and excessive vibrato echoes (without duplicating) “period” sonority; and a style suggestive of how the music is far closer to the composer’s middle period than we often think. In a similar vein, this is a tough, aggressive No. 16, yet one tempered by delicacy where apt and projected with sensitivity to the music’s pointed humor—a performance style that one probably was not likely to encounter 50 years ago. And fine though the Beethoven is, the Mozart may be even better, as commanding and sensitive account of the work as I have ever heard. For one thing, Sabine Meyer is superb, a true virtuoso who is capable of rendering the music’s gentler moments with a tender delicacy that is as arresting as her rapidly articulated runs in which every note is given its clearly articulated due.
Where this release falls short, at least for me, is in the video. To be sure, what it shows reveals a number of physical intricacies regarding fingering, positioning, application or avoidance of vibrato, and how the musicians interact through eye contact. But ultimately, in the hyperactivity of its shifting images, it seems a distraction from, rather than a complement to, the music. Moreover, the image one sees does not always duplicate what one hears. Meyer, for example, appears on the extreme right while sounding as if she were on the left. But—and this is the major issue—the performances make the disc worthwhile. Turn off the screen and let your speakers do the work if the visual image proves a distraction. The sound is fine. In keeping with the musical worth of these performances is the inclusion of a two-minute Capriccio presto encore from Weber’s op. 34 Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, a wonderfully whacky perpetual motion of virtuosic humor. In short, for the musical content alone this release is worth having. In the two big works, all major repeats are observed.
FANFARE: Mortimer H. Frank
Works on This Recording
Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A major, K 581 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sabine Meyer (Clarinet)
Hagen String Quartet
Written: 1789; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 01/26/2000
Venue: Grosser Saal, Mozarteum, Salzburg
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