It's been thirty years since siblings Lukas (violin), Veronika (viola), and Clemens (cello) founded the Hagen Quartet in 1981--violinist Rainer Schmidt joined a few years later. For their anniversary season, they're touring with Beethoven's F major quartet from 1801, his E-flat major quartet from 1809, and his F minor quartet from 1810. The F major has an Adagio affetuoso ed appassionato that would make a stone weep, while the E-flat major has an Adagio ma non troppo that could make the sky cry. And the F minor is full of all the qualities one associates with Beethoven in his Appassionata key: opening with a furious Allegro con brio, moving through an intense Allegretto ma non troppo, followed by a restless Allegro assai vivace, and closing with a despondent Larghetto espressivo that shifts gears to a driving Allegretto agitato that builds to an Allegro coda releasing all the quartet's energy in a burst of giddy joy.
When the Hagen Quartet returns on February 23, I expect they'll be ardently expressive, as well as lithely lyrical, relentlessly rhythmic, and rigorously musical. And I expect I won't be wrong again.
[Originally published in February, 2012.]