Hagen String Quartet!
In my view, the Hagen Quartet is the premier string quartet group in the world. Three of its members are siblings. The exception is the second violin player. As a performing group, my sense is that they are at the top of their field. Their sound, their style, the phrasing, their adherence to fine dynamics, and their interpretations are top notch!
The *balance* that this group of chamber music players achieve is simply wonderful. And… I must admit that I am in love with Veronica Hagen, the violist! She produces the most wonderful sound, and is completely present in all the sections of any composition where the viola has even the tiniest of prominent parts.
The Hagen Quartet recorded the Ravel Quartet F-Major quartet in the “Grosser Saal” of the Mozarteum in Salzburg, a truly gorgeous venue. The Quartet’s playing here is a lovely combination of classical clarity and impressionistic suggestion. It is astonishing to remember that Ravel wrote the quartet while still at the Paris Conservatoire. After the strong opening movement, the second movement is played pizzicato (plucked strings). The third movement is called Très lent, with its episodic construction and varying tempi. The Finale is somewhat characterized by a Russian feel, and as was the case in the third movement, Ravel again uses the main theme of the quartet’s opening moments. This is a superb performance by the Hagen Quartet!
The Schubert “Death and the Maiden” quartet on the same DVD is a recording from much earlier in the Hagen’s performance career. In my view, the Ravel is the main reason to own this DVD. The Schubert is fine, yet shows a group that clearly had a lot less experience at the time that the Schubert recording was made.
Bottom line? Yes… I highly recommend this DVD!
Here is the Hagan Quartet performing Maurice Ravel – String Quartet in F – second movement: Assez vif, Très rythmé
Tags: Hagen String Quartet, Ravel, Schubert, Mozarteum, “Death and the Maiden”