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Dean Frey
Music for Several Instruments, December 2017

Top Ten Discs for 2017

Though the recordings in this 3-disc set from the Amar Quartet are at least a couple of years old, when Naxos put them together it really emphasized how important Hindemith’s String Quartet cycle is in its entirety. That’s enough to push this into my Top 10. © 2017 Music for Several Instruments

Stephen Barber
MusicWeb International, December 2017

Hindemith’s cycle of seven string quartets have been somewhat neglected compared to those of Schoenberg and Bartók, but they deserve comparable exposure. This Amar quartet is Swiss-based and named after the quartet in which Hindemith himself played the viola. For them this is core repertoire and they play with confidence and swagger. The recording is excellent. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Stephen Barber
MusicWeb International, November 2017

The Amar quartet is named after the one Hindemith himself formed in 1921, though he switched from the violin to the viola and so the quartet was named after its leader, Licco Amar. This Amar quartet is a Swiss ensemble and took its name in 1994. Clearly for them the Hindemith quartets are core repertoire and they play with the confidence and swagger that comes from familiarity. Interestingly the two violinists alternate the role of leader. For the record it is Anna Brunner in Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 6 and Igor Keller in Nos. 1, 5 and 7. The recordings were made in a radio studio which has natural acoustics for chamber works and the sound is excellent. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Scott Noriega
Fanfare, November 2017

Not only can [Hindemith] flex his contrapuntal muscles here naturally, which he does often, but the genre also allows him to show off his harmonic invention and witty playfulness. The works were all written between 1915 and 1945, a good portion of his career. They display two of his major styles: his earlier Expressionism and his later modified neo-Baroque-ism, as I’ll call it. The Amar Quartet were born for this music. The members play with energy, spirit, a lovely color palette, excellent intonation, and, importantly, with a lovely sense of freedom. Under their hands this music breathes, it sighs, it dances, it plays, it is alive! If one does not know this music, there is no better way to get to know it out there—and have fun doing it! © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

James H. North
Fanfare, July 2017

As I found with the two previous discs in this series… the Amar does not always make an immediate impression, but repeated hearings bring an ever growing appreciation of its way with Hindemith’s highly varied string quartets. …if I had to live with a single set of Hindemith quartet recordings, the Amar would be it. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, May 2017

The Amar Quartet gives us thoughtful and energetically dynamic readings of the seven quartets in a Naxos box set. There may be more brilliant interpretations of some of these works but taken as a whole the Amar versions are very faithful to the composer’s vision and a real pleasure to experience.

There is a treasure trove of vintage Hindemith to be heard in this complete opus. Hindemith himself was a very accomplished violist. His presence in the acclaimed original Amar Quartet during his German period uniquely situated him to think in quartet terms. The quartet cycle that came out of this intimate working familiarity was surely one of the finest of the last century. © 2017 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Stuart Sillitoe
MusicWeb International, April 2017

I found the performance of the Amar Quartet first rate; they certainly live up to the reputation of their namesakes. They manage to bring out the best in this wonderful music. Yes they are the slowest overall, but this is not a bad thing. It gives them time to give voice to every little phrase and section of the music. Yes, I will always like the Kocian Quartet’s playing, but it now sounds a little dated. The excellent Danish Quartet hold their own in comparison to this new set, but for me it is the Amar Quartet, with their greater sense of clarity, which will now be my go-to recording. This is the recording that Hindemith’s string quartets have waited for and deserved. They have an ability to excite, charm and entertain. It is the characteristics that the Amar Quartet manage to effortlessly bring out. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Lynn René Bayley
The Art Music Lounge, March 2017

There is a decided Czech or Hungarian sound to [Amar Quartet], particularly in the first movement with its unusual chord choices and melodic formation. In the second movement, we hear intimations of the mature Hindemith to come in the close harmonies used in the lower strings (viola, playing in its lower range, and cello), but the overall feel of the music is still more Czech than German to my ears.

…this is an outstanding traversal of the Hindemith quartets by a group that has obviously put a lot of thought and hard work into their conceptions of them… © 2017 The Art Music Lounge Read complete review

Jed Distler, February 2017

The Amar Quartet revels in the music’s color and characterful diversity. For example, the players bring more breadth and vocally oriented phrasing to the aforementioned fugato in comparison to the Danish Quartet’s animated reserve, while also bringing a wider degree of tempo fluctuation and forward thrust to the fourth movement. …in light of Naxos’ superior sonic bloom and the musicians’ overall excellence, you won’t find a more satisfying Hindemith Quartet cycle on disc. All serious chamber music fans should get to know these works and these performances. © 2017 Read complete review

Guy Engels
Pizzicato, February 2017

In Hindemith’s Complete String Quartets, the Amar Quartet reaches a lot of expressiveness in a clear and transparent sound. So, Hindemith’s rather sober music experiences a lot of warmth, it is beautifully coloured, dynamic and, especially in the slow movements, really moving. Therefore, this production is an inspiring Hindemith-Homage, rich in tension, and a courageous plea for this not so well known music. © 2017 Pizzicato

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2017

When the third of these three discs was issued in June 2015, I commented that the whole series was ‘one of the most recommendable in the compact disc catalogue’. It had started out in May 2012, when my review of that release concluded with the commendation that the playing was immaculate, and the recording, by Swiss Radio, as good as they come. Hearing all three discs again, they have, by and large, reinforced those words, the works, written through much of Hindemith’s life showing that his style changed little, the Seventh, and last quartet containing one of his most beautiful moments. As performed today, the quartets do not have the numbering Hindemith gave them, a discarded work from his teenage years not counted in his canon of six quartets. In mood, they range from the optimistic First, that looked to happier times that would follow the First World War, through to a sadness that prevails in those that followed. After the Fifth—where he toyed with atonality—it seems he lost interest in such works, and it was some twenty years before he returned to the genre. Then living in the United States, the last two were short, pithy and looked back to the mood of the First, the finale of the Sixth being particularly charming. The Amar Quartet take their name from the quartet formed by Hindemith when he could not find a group with the time to spare in rehearsing for the Third quartet’s world premiere. I did question the intonation of the leader in the performance of the First—on the last of the released discs—but elsewhere the playing had been immaculate, and the recordings outstanding. A bargain at super-budget price, but now released for the price of two discs. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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