One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


  AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
String quartet in E flat major, Op. 127 (1825) [33:43]
String quartet in a minor, Op. 132 (1825) [41:16]
Hagen Quartet (Lukas Hagen and Rainer Schmidt, violins; Veronika Hagen, viola and Clemens Hagen, cello)
Recorded in the Schloss Mondsee in November 2003 and in Wiesloch, Palatin, Minnesängersall in March 2004.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 5705 [75:07]

When Beethoven was commissioned by Prince Galitzin in November of 1822 to compose a new set of string quartets, he was in the enviable position of having complete artistic freedom and the clout to demand any price he wished. He accepted the commission for the then whopping fee of fifty ducats per quartet and promised the first quartet would be delivered in March of the following year. The patron would have to wait far longer, as the completion of the Ninth Symphony and the Missa Solemnis took priority. In fact the quartets were not delivered until 1825. The result, however was spectacular, and the late quartets were to become Beethoven’s crowning achievement; music for the ages with little or no regard to tradition, nor with any concern about audience reaction to these most remarkable, unusual and heretofore unheard of structures and sounds.

Central to both of these works are their slow movements. Longer in both cases by nearly double the lengths of their surrounding movements, Beethoven relies far more on the conveyance of a specific set of thoughts or ideas as opposed to any real dependence on form. This is especially true of the poignant Convalescent’s Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Deity, a sincere expression of gratitude from the composer upon his recovery from a long and painful stomach disorder. The serenity and sheer beauty of this single movement is overwhelming, and to hear this fine performance would be worth the cost of the entire disc.

The Hagens have been on the scene for some years now, making a fairly good sized collection of recordings. I have found it interesting however how heavily they rely on the standard repertoire in their programming, with sojourns outside the established canon being fairly rare occurrences. That aside, these are performances of supreme dedication and finesse. Given that the late Beethoven quartets are notorious for their difficulty, one would never know it to hear them played by the Hagens.

Intonation and ensemble are first-rate, as one would come to expect from such a seasoned group. What I found to be most refreshing was the pacing of the works. They are never allowed to bog down in syrupy romanticism, even in the sublime Convalescent’s Thanksgiving, which could easily give way to self-indulgence. The Hagens do indulge, however in a bit of extraneous sniffing and snorting, a habit of which my extreme distaste is well known. It is however not enough to detract from this beautifully paced, flawlessly executed performance.
A highly commendable release, worth some pride of place in any collection.

Kevin Sutton



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.