52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Recordings of the Month


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Schubert Symphony 9


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE

Enescu Ravel Britten

Debussy Images etc.

53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)





Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

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



CD: Turtle Records

Mauricio KAGEL (1931-2008)
String Quartet no.4 (1993) [24:05]
Tristan KEURIS (1946-1996)
String Quartet no.1 (1982) [22:24]
Lagos Ensemble (Ron de Haas (violin), Jan Koomen (violin), Kyra Philippi (viola), Sebastian de Rode (cello))
rec. 28-30 August 2006, Hervormde Kerk Renswoude. DDD/DSD. Stereo/Surround
TURTLE RECORDS TR75531 [46:41]

Experience Classicsonline

The long shadow of Béla Bartók hangs over both of these late 20th century string quartets. The Keuris was written in 1982 and the Kagel in 1993, but both inhabit soundworlds that evoke the interwar years more than they do their own times. That is not necessarily a bad thing and there is far more potential in Bartók’s musical ideas than his own music could fully exploit, but the string quartets presented here are from the conservative end of both composers’ outputs. Both are skilfully crafted and artistically accomplished works, but neither fully demonstrates the individuality for which both composers are better known.

Kagel’s Fourth Quartet achieves an impressive balance between atonal lingua franca and ambiguous stylistic allusion. He regularly strikes up dance tunes, or makes early preparations for tonal cadences. Neither the dance episodes nor the cadences ever fully materialise, but the thwarted preparations themselves become the basis of new atonal textures and sections. Coming, as it does, from the later years of Kagel’s career, the work demonstrates the results of a lifetime’s experience of integrating diverse elements into unified works. It is as if these disparate elements have been digested and artistically integrated to the point that all tension between them has been transcended. In this respect, it is similar to Schnittke’s Piano Quintet, and both are works by composers so used to dealing with heterogeneous material that even when they distance themselves from musical montage, it shows itself as the basis of their mature art. But unlike the Schnittke, this is a frenetic work, full of fast music and abrupt changes of tempo and mood. Bartók’s presence is felt in the use of walking cello bass lines, Bartók pizzicatos and, most significantly, the paradoxical impression of cosmopolitan folksiness. He shares Barkok’s ability to take (or generate) folk material, and then to presented it in the most sophisticated contexts without any apparent disparity. But Kagel draws on no ethnic sources to create this effect, instead he somehow creates his own endearing vernacular, a musical platform from which he can both communicate directly and throw in his occasional surprises. One such is the little jig that interrupts the flow of the final movement. Again, it is not completely incongruous, but is an elegant reminder to the ear, by then so accustomed to the flowing Kagel ‘style’, that there is actually no such thing, and that the whole work up to this point has been based on a subtly compiled, but impressively diverse, range of styles.

The First String Quartet by Tristan Keuris is another skilfully crafted work, although it is not in the same league as the Kagel. Like the Kagel, it is music based on atonal, but by no means uncomfortable, textures. Again, this is the basis of Bartók’s influence on the work, all three composers creating Modernist textures with broad appeal simply through their technical ability rather than through any regression to tonal rhetoric. Having said that, the music also evokes the voice of Benjamin Britten, not least through the precision with which Keuris conceives, voices and notates his string lines. And if the results occasionally sound orchestral, it is thanks to the composer’s Britten-esque skill in handling the sting instruments to maximum timbral - and indeed musical - effect. The work is in three movements, an arch-form - again from Bartók - revolving around a central slow movement. The outer movements share thematic material and both are based on thematic manipulation which manages to be rigorous without ever risking pedantry. Most of the middle movement is based on a single solo line, shared around the group and usually accompanied by the other players. He is not afraid to reduce the ensemble to just this single line of occasion, an effect that benefits from the tenacious, yet elegant tone of each of the players.

The performances of both works are sympathetic to the composer’s aims: disciplined without ever feeling austere. That tone quality I mentioned in the Keuris is a great example, a focused, deliberate sound in a passage that could easily by misinterpreted as romantic arioso. The Lagos Ensemble is a Dutch group (the box makes no mention of any connections with Nigeria), and they are joined for this recording by the guest viola player Kyra Philippi. She does them proud, and the SACD sound is especially beneficial to the viola and cello, both of whom come across with a rich, characterful tone. In general the sound quality is warm without being too reverberant, impressive considering it was recorded in a church, and the 1950s styling of the box is elegant if not exactly appropriate. Keuris fans are unlikely to be disappointed by this release, and nor are - the slightly more numerous - fans of Kagel. It might also be attractive to those with a taste for the Bartók or the Britten quartets who are looking for new directions in 20th century repertoire. These aren’t dazzling masterpieces of the calibre of either of those composers, but they are skilfully crafted examples of one of the paths taken by the genre in recent years. 

Gavin Dixon 



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

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.