With their emotionally penetrating approach to chamber music, the members of the Hagen Quartet have an obvious flair for Shostakovich, yet more than a decade has elapsed between their first recording of the composer's music and the present one. They've used the intervening years to hone their interpretive powers to an even sharper point, and here they take the listener through some particularly intense territory, from the Third Quartet of 1946, shadowed by the end of World War II, to the deeply introspective Seventh and Eighth Quartets, written back to back in 1960. Among the virtues of the Hagen's playing, especially in modernist repertoire, is their willingness to explore the full range of their instruments' tone colors, including ones that aren't conventionally beautiful. When expressionistic angst is called for, as in the fugue of the Seventh Quartet's last movement, to name just one of several incidents, you can count on the Hagens to bring forth a sound both traumatized and boldly aggressive. Yet Shostakovich calls for many more delicate effects, too, and the Hagens have a wonderful way with them as well: the countless shadings of their pizzicato attacks, for example, and their quietly seamless blending in the slow movements of the Eighth Quartet. The latter, one of Shostakovich's best-known works, is the ultimate testing ground to measure this quartet against their many competitors in the repertoire. Like few other ensembles, the Hagens move with ease between visceral, roller-coaster thrills and the deepest expressions of pain and isolation, making their version of the Eighth Quartet -- no less than the other works featured here -- a profoundly moving experience.