Concert in Carmel: Hagen!

  Hagen Quartet Carmel Concert:

  • Review of concert performed on 11/02/2014.

I have been a distant admirer of the performances of the Hagen Quartet, because their home base is in Salzburg, Austria, and they simply do not perform in the US all that often. My being limited to watching older DVD’s, as well as a few CD’s created a sense of not knowing what to expect at this concert. Quartets are made up of people; and people change.

And interpretations mature and change, as well. As such, I drove to the concert by the Hagen Quartet in Carmel by-the Sea yesterday with some anticipation. What I found was that this group is still committed to excellence. They are still determined to have the listener experience music of great lyricism, and a fine balance among the four instruments.

The concert at 3 PM provided us with the following gems:

• Mozart’s Quartet in C Major, K. 465, the “Dissonant,”

• Mozart’s Quartet in D Major “Hoffmeister” and the

• Brahms Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 67

All four members of the quartet play instruments crafted by Antonio Stradivari. In a sense these instruments are a historic family, because all four were owned by violinist Niccolo Paganini at one time. Now these instruments are owned by the Nippon Music Foundation, and they are on loan to the Hagen Quartet members.

I had an opportunity to examine the viola closely, because of the kindness, courtesy, and consideration of the violist of the group, Ms. Veronika Hagen.

See my two photo below.


The interpretation of the two Mozart quartets was wonderful. The themes, as carried at various times by each of the four instruments were beautifully expressed, and never drowned out by the other players.

During intermission, I heard two men talking about the two Mozart quartets, and they felt that eight movements of Mozart for the first half of the program were excessive. Bringing some variety to the first hour may have prevented at least one of these men from “…nodding off…”

The quartet Op. 67 by Brahms was spectacular. For me, this was the case because of the amazing playing of Ms. Veronika Hagen and her Stradivari viola. I sat near the rear of the auditorium, and the wonderful viola solo reached me in a totally effortless way.

What beautiful expressive and sensitive playing that was! Let’s hope that the Carmel Music society is successful in bringing this group back to us very soon.