Once again, I’ve seen a DVD of a concert that I believe was
a privilege to watch. In this case, it was a performance of
Ludwig Van Beethoven’s “String Quartet No. 16,” and
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Clarinet Quintet.” These
performances from 2000 were given by the Hagen Quartett,
and filmed at the Grosser Saal des Salzburger Mozarteum.
Clarinetist Sabine Meyer joined them for the Mozart piece.

This was the first time I’d seen a performance by the Hagen Quartett.
This group consists of Lukas Hagen on first violin, Rainer Schmidt
on second violin, Veronika Hagen on viola, and Clemens Hagen
on cello. Based upon these performances, I’d say that these
musicians are right up there with the best of them. Their
interaction, sense of ensemble and attention to dynamics
were inspiring to watch.

Both of these works dated from the end of each respective
composer’s career, and in Beethoven’s case, the very end.
Although both pieces grew from the same Viennese traditions,
they were worlds apart. In fact, the Beethoven piece seemed to
come from another planet. In the past, I’ve commented about
how Beethoven’s late quartets sounded increasingly modern,
and this one was no exception. Of course, the Mozart “Quintet”
from 1789 is perhaps the greatest and most popular piece of
chamber music for the clarinet, and Sabine Meyer (1959 – )
sounded flawless to my ears. Her musicality and interaction
with the members of the Hagen Quartett was inspiring, and the
cameras captured every nuance. As an encore, we were
treated to the brief, third movement of Carl Maria von Weber’s
(1786-1826) “Clarinet Quintet,” that was also played superbly.

This was chamber music making at the highest level, excellently
recorded by the sound engineers. Originally released by the
Unitel label, this DVD was reissued under the EuroArts label
in 2009. I believe this 72-minute disc is essential viewing for
chamber music lovers, and connoisseurs of great music everywhere.