At first glance, the Israel Festival’s opening concert of its classical music
program seemed neither particularly attractive nor sensational – the Hagen
Quartet had already appeared in the Festival several years ago (a fact carefully
left unmentioned in the program notes).
However, there cannot be too much
of a good thing.
Sounding remarkably more mature now, the Hagen Quartet
now represents the glorious tradition of Central European chamber music at its
very best. In particular, its delicate nuances of dynamics are outstanding, and
its capability of producing a soft, almost inaudible piano is a veritable
rarity. This created a surprise effect at the conclusion of Haydn’s String
Quartet op. 54/1 after an exuberant fast final movement and then again at
the end of Bartok’s String Quartet Nr.2.
The program’s highlight was
Bartok’s rarely performed quartet. It was performed with gripping, almost
In Brahms’ Piano Quintet, Arthur Rubinstein
Competition First Prize winner Kirill Gerstein joined the Hagen Quartet. It
seemed as though some more rehearsals might have brought the pianist and the
quartet to a somewhat more consolidated common ground of performance.
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