Bartok: The Complete String Quartets / Juilliard String Quartet

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In 1949/50 the Juilliard Quartet recorded the first integral Bartók quartet cycle on disc. The group revisited the six works for stereo in 1963, and...
In 1949/50 the Juilliard Quartet recorded the first integral Bartók quartet cycle on disc. The group revisited the six works for stereo in 1963, and again in 1981, with the advent of digital technology. Critical consensus has long considered the 1963 cycle (now released for the first time complete on CD in America) as a benchmark, and rightly so. Some listeners may find the overly close-up engineering a bit monochrome and astringent, yet the Juilliards' uncanny precision, inner rhythmic drive, and pinpoint intonation successfully get past the microphone's unforgiving observation. And even considering today's high sonic and interpretive standards vis-à-vis the Emerson, Hagen, and Takács cycles, these Juilliard performances withstand time's cruel test.

Sample, for instance, the stunning synchronicity of the glissandos and thick tutti chords in the first movement of the Fourth quartet, the textural diversity the players bring to the muted Prestissimo movement, and notice how the all-pizzicato movement's loudest pluckings never compromise pitch definition. In the Second quartet, listen to the gorgeously-layered and controlled slow, sustained lines at the Lento's outset, and revel in the Third quartet coda's joyous intensity and dramatic payoff. I especially like the brisk, effortless conversational quality of the Fifth quartet Scherzo's asymmetrical lines, the group's impeccable dynamic contouring of the unison single lines in the first movement of the Sixth, as well as the hushed, sustained rapture in the same work's final movement. A big thank you to Sony and Arkivmusic.com for making this milestone Bartók cycle available again.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com


Product Description:


  • Release Date: September 14, 2010


  • UPC: 886977711923


  • Catalog Number: SONY77119


  • Label: Sony


  • Number of Discs: 3


  • Composer: Béla Bartók


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Juilliard String Quartet



Works:


  1. Quartet for Strings no 1 in A minor, Op. 7/Sz 40

    Composer: Béla Bartók

    Ensemble: Juilliard String Quartet


  2. Quartet for Strings no 2 in A minor, Op. 17

    Composer: Béla Bartók

    Ensemble: Juilliard String Quartet


  3. Quartet for Strings no 3, Sz 85

    Composer: Béla Bartók

    Ensemble: Juilliard String Quartet


  4. Quartet for Strings no 4, Sz 91

    Composer: Béla Bartók

    Ensemble: Juilliard String Quartet


  5. Quartet for Strings no 5, Sz 102

    Composer: Béla Bartók

    Ensemble: Juilliard String Quartet


  6. Quartet for Strings no 6, Sz 114

    Composer: Béla Bartók

    Ensemble: Juilliard String Quartet