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Terry Robbins
The WholeNote, February 2013

Hindemith String Quartets Vol.2…features the final three quartets of the composer’s cycle of seven, in impeccable performances by the Amar Quartet. They’re terrific works, demonstrating his mastery of string writing… © 2013 The WholeNote Read complete review

David Hurwitz, January 2013

This second volume in Naxos’ series of the complete Hindemith quartets contains two of the composer’s largest and best works in the medium. The Fifth Quartet (1923) represents an apotheosis of the composer’s early, experimental phase. The music is chromatic and relentlessly contrapuntal, but also brilliant and even fun…It culminates in an imposing passacaglia that, like the opening double fugue, is remarkably easy to follow while at the same time sounding amazingly modern.

The Sixth Quartet dates from 20 years later, but like its predecessor it can be said to summarize the more lyrical, tonal, mature idiom of the composer’s American period. Sample the gorgeous theme of the work’s third-movement variations…one of Hindemith’s most captivating inspirations. The brief Seventh Quartet is altogether lighter…Surely its premiere performance wasn’t as fine as this one.

As with the previous releases in this series, the performances are all outstanding. The Amar Quartet, named after Hindemith’s own ensemble of the early 20th century, plays this music with a proprietary gusto worthy of the name. All of these pieces are, as already noted, highly contrapuntal…but the playing here never sounds dry or mechanical, and the sonics are first rate. Connoisseurs of chamber music will find this disc an endless source of pleasure. © 2013 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2012

Taking their name from the string quartet Paul Hindemith formed in 1921, the young Zurich-based group add the second disc of a complete cycle of his seven quartets.  Hindemith, had he chosen, could have followed a distinguished career either as a solo violinist or violist, that fact evident in the sheer craftsmanship of his quartet writing. Indeed it was his Third Quartet that launched him onto the international musical scene in 1921, and the Fourth and Fifth were soon to follow. Cast in the classical format of his forbearers, the Fifth harmonically bridges the gap between tonality and atonality, with the march in the short third movement preempting the style of Shostakovich. A complex and extended Passacaglia, with twenty-eight variations, forms the dark hued and energy sapping finale. Twenty years were to elapse before the Sixth, by which time the growth of the Nazi regime forced his departure from his native Germany in 1940, eventually arriving in the United States where he took up citizenship. Once established in America the last two quartets came in quick succession. The mood, however, changed, his style swinging away from atonality to a much more readily acceptable melodic language, the Sixth, opening rather sadly, eventually gives way to a happy disposition in the central movements that lead to a vigorous, likeable and complex finale. The Seventh is quite short lasting little more than a quarter hour, the third movement one of the composers most beautiful moments. As with the previous disc, the Amar’s playing is immaculate, and they stylistically understand the composer…The Swiss Radio recording is very good, and I recommend it unreservedly. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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