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Thread: Bartok's Quartets

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    Senior Member ChamberNut's Avatar
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    Default Bartok's Quartets

    Here is a thread to discuss Bartok's string quartets.

    Yesterday, I was listening to his String Quartet # 1. The first mvt "Lento" definitely reminded me of Beethoven's String Quartet # 14, Op. 131, the 1st mvt. Just wondering if anyone else who listens to Bartok's quartets has encountered this?

    Listening to Bartok the last few weeks, and it's definitely very different than what I'm "used to" hearing. Having said that, I really enjoy SQ # 1 and think it to be the easiest of the quartets to listen to in terms of the transition.

    I also enjoy SQ# 4 very much. Love the Allegretto Pizzicato 4th mvt.

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    The 3rd is probably the hardest to comprehend! These are important works for the student of String Quartets and string techniques (for a composer) as well as just listening.

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    I haven't gotten into much of Bartok's work, particularly his chamber music. After hearing one of his piano sonatas I realized that there is more than first meets the ear with Bartok.

    Thanks for bringing up the string quartets, Ill have to check into those. As far as Beethoven's quartets, my favs are the later ones (11-17), one of which you compare to Bartok. (But, Im sure, and correct me if Im wrong, Bartok borrows a lot from Beethoven's later work.)

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    The Bartok quartets are pretty much fundamental materials to study if you really want to study twentieth century music. I particularly love the 4th, which the Arditti Quartet has referred to as a "twentieth century warhouse" piece of chamber work.

    Lately I've been studying Alexandre Tansman's numerous string quartets (8 total), Darius Milhaud's monster catalogue of them (18 total, 2 of which can combine into an awesome octet), and the lesser-known Belgian composer Jean Absil's (4 total). Absil was very interested in Bartok's work and he espoused a similar folk-ish free tonal approach to creating harmonies.

    As regards Bartok, I'd say everyone should dedicate some real time to exploring his quartets as well as his other timeless chamber work. My highest recommendation goes out to his Music for Celeste, Percussion, and Strings.

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    Senior Member ChamberNut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indutrial View Post
    My highest recommendation goes out to his Music for Celeste, Percussion, and Strings.
    I second this recommendation. I really love this work.

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    Senior Member jurianbai's Avatar
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    Have fragmented of SQ no.2,3,5 and 6 but have a full SQ no.4 which is really challenging to hear. It is in the era I am not much familiar with. My quick comment is I like the SQ no.2 , especially the 2nd mov Allegro Molto, love that bombastic intro.

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    I am thinking of getting some recordings of Bartok's quartets. I consider recordings by Hagen Quartet and Takács Quartet. Another option is Arcanto Qt (Qts 5 and 6). Which would you recommend?
    Last edited by Zasranec; Mar-24-2009 at 00:23.

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    Andante
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    I have now found a large hole in my CD collection, not one quartet a lot of Bartoks other works but no St Qts, what have I been missing

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    I recommend Juilliard Quartet. But I've heard Végh Quartet is the best option you can get.

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    I haven't any Bartok AT ALL in my collection... this is a tragedy. I have a bunch of stuff lined up already (quartets, concerto for orchestra/music for celeste, percussion, strings, piano music, etc.), but nothing bought. I have many holes to fill in my collection yet!
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Thanks, Juan. But Vegh Quartet is a 1954 mono recording...

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    How about the Guarneri Qt, 2 CD set for d/l at Amazon for $9.99, can any one recommend this set??

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    Quote Originally Posted by World Violist View Post
    I haven't any Bartok AT ALL in my collection... this is a tragedy.
    Heaven forbid. That's astonishing. You will never live it down if word gets around. Quick now, before it is too late, get down to your record store and buy what everyone else has already bought: Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta(Reiner/CSO); String Quartets (Tokyo DG set, or Juilliard 1963, or Emerson Quartet if you like your chamber music a bit faster and leaner). I hope you get away with it.

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    Senior Member TresPicos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andante View Post
    I have now found a large hole in my CD collection, not one quartet a lot of Bartoks other works but no St Qts, what have I been missing
    You've been missing #4 and #6 especially.

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    I have enjoyed the music of Béla Bartók ever since I discovered it, when I was a freshman in college (more years ago than you need to know, or I want to think about). After I started a Bartók guestbook in this forum, I was very humbled when our own Mr. Bach referred me to Bartók's string quartets, which I had never heard (honestly, don't believe I had ever heard of).

    For the past few weeks (with a pause for the new Indigo Girls record yesterday), I have been having the most wonderful adventures in listening to the quartets. I think it might be a good thing that I had these treasures waiting for me now. It is amazing how much Bartók packs into these pieces.

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