1963, 1993, 2009

Kagel: String Quartet No. 4; Keuris: String Quartet No. 1 (2009) by Lagos Ensemble

This disc collects Kagel’s final quartet and the first quartet by Tristan Keuris, a Dutch composer I have never hear of before. The works were composed 30 years apart.

Kagel’s fourth and final quartet is similar to his third in that it contains more radical elements, but these elements are incorporated into more traditional and recognizable forms – even if the quartet is two movements of 8 or so passages each, which is very much not tradition. It’s perhaps the most conservative of his string quartets, but don’t let that trick you into thinking this is a particularly conservative piece of music. I think the third is the greater accomplishment, but I still like this piece of music.

This is the first piece of Keuris’ music I’ve heard and it suffers a little from the fact that I have been immersing myself in Kagel’s works for the past couple of weeks because Keuris is a more traditional composer and I often find I get a little hard on more traditional composers when I’m listening to more radical stuff at the same time. But that sells this quartet short and I don’t want to do that. This is an interesting and engaging piece of music. It’s not exactly going to change your view of the string quartet, but it’s still compelling and worth listening to. It’s one of those pieces that tries to bridge tradition and more avant garde ideas and I always like that. It certainly makes me want to look into Keuris more.

Compared to Kagel’s quartet – compared to any of Kagel’s quartets – the Keuris is much more traditional, but I guess that makes it a fair pairing, given that Kagel’s most conservative work is alongside something a little more traditional.


  1. IV. Streichquartett (In Zwei Sätzen): I. Vivace, Larghetto Grazioso, Adagio, Andante, Moderato, Presto, Moderato, Larghetto 12:11
  2. IV. Streichquartett (In Zwei Sätzen): III. Allegretto, Andantino, Adagio, Grave, Adagio, Largo, Adagio Molto Rubato, Grave, Vivace, Andante, Allegro, Presto 12:03
  3. Strijkkwartet No. 1: I. Introduzione 8:35
  4. Strijkkwartet No. 1: II. Calando 6:25
  5. Strijkkwartet No. 1: III. Quasi Agitato 7:23

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