SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

“Ragazze Quartet, Vivre” – HAYDN: Quartet in D Minor, ‘Fifths Quartet;’ SCHUBERT: Quartet in D Minor, ‘Death and the Maiden’; JORG WIDMANN: Hunting Quartet – Channel Classics

Very polished played by this female quartet on two classics and a wild contemporary quartet.

Published on April 20, 2013

Ragazze Quartet, Vivre” – HAYDN: Quartet in D Minor, (Opus 76 No. 2) ‘Fifths Quartet;’ SCHUBERT: Quartet in D Minor, (D810) ‘Death and the Maiden’; JORG WIDMANN: Hunting Quartet (Third String Quartet 2003) – Channel Classics multichannel SACD (5.0) CCS SA 34613 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****

This disc contains very polished playing by four young women who make up this Dutch Quartet. The works presented, two traditional pieces by Haydn and Schubert, are joined my music of Jörg Widmann, a contemporary composer. We hear the Hunting Quartet, composed in 2003.

If the disc has a theme, it is death, despite the title: Vivre. The Haydn is in D minor, (often referred to as the key of death). The Schubert, also in D minor, is titled Death and the Maiden, and the Widmann is a wild contemporary work that starts off full of energy and ends up with a rather gruesome tone. In some ways, because it was the one unfamiliar work on the disc, it was the most enjoyable.

The Ragezze Quartet plays with energy and conviction. The Dutch Quartet has enjoyed positive reviews in concerts from The Hague to Carnegie Hall.   The recording is up to the usual Channel Classics standards. It is a 5.0 SACD, and the strings sound realistic and detailed. The microphone positioning is not overly close, so there is a taste of the sound of the recording venue. The SACD gets a workout during the Widmann, as the strings hit some notes far off the usual range of the instruments.

Both the Haydn and Schubert are very well-played. The Widmann is an interesting curiosity, and some will find it the best tracks on the disc, while others may have preferred something more traditional. (There is a bit of unconventional human howling in  the last movement.)

—Mel Martin

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