Germany's famed Hagen Quartet is known not just for its inimitable play, stylistic versatility and unique sound, but also for its discerning and intelligent programme choices. In setting Beethoven and Webern side-by-side, Hagen bridge the gap between the First and Second Viennese schools. Nor is Webern’s 1905 quartet coincidental. Its extreme chromaticism means that the piece is sometimes seen as the true introduction of atonality, but the spirit of Beethoven is ever present at the same time: the darkness at the beginning of the piece does not lift until the very end, in the triumphant finale. “I can't describe the feeling of triumph in my soul; it is comparable to nothing, except when in the midst of Death, Life is born”, wrote Webern on his score.