Amar Quartett

Hindemith: String Quartets, Vol. 3

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The string quartets of Paul Hindemith haven't been accorded the prestige of the roughly contemporary cycle by Béla Bartók, at least as far as being particularly innovative or influential. However, in the way they reflect Hindemith's stylistic development and changes in approach, the seven string quartets he composed between 1914 and 1945 are at least as varied as Bartók's six, and they similarly straddle the divide between traditional quartet writing and modernist experimentation. With this third volume in its series on Naxos, the Amar Quartet brings the cycle to a close with the String Quartet No. 1, Op. 2, a four-movement work strongly flavored with Brahmsian themes and Romantic sonorities, and the String Quartet No. 4, Op. 22, a suite of five pieces that reflects the searching eclecticism of the 1920s. Of the two, the latter work is recognizably Hindemith's in his distinctive use of chromatic harmony and ever-modulating tonality, and it has become the most popular of his quartets, largely because of its expressive directness and robust energy. The Amar Quartet is named after the group Hindemith formed in 1922, and its dedication in communicating the composer's intentions is of the highest order. The recordings are clean and detailed, and the close proximity of the players gives them a strong, vibrant presence.

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