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Mike D. Brownell, August 2011

…filled with lofty technical demands, extended playing techniques, complex harmonies and rhythm, and difficult ensemble challenges. It is therefore difficult to come by recordings of these two impassioned works that are both musically informed and technically solid; all too often, intonation suffers mightily in these taxing quartets. The Hagen Quartett, heard here in a Newton Classics reissue of a 1988 recording, proves that listeners can indeed have the best of both worlds. The Hagens play with almost impossibly precise technique, virtually spotless intonation, and a fluid sense of balance that allows every line and every note of Janáček’s scores to easily be heard. What’s more, they brilliantly convey the emotional, autobiographical nature of the two works in such a way that even someone unfamiliar with their origins can sense the tension, drama, and angst. The disc concludes with an equally enjoyable performance of Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade.

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8:07:12 PM, 26 April 2015
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