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Bartok: The Complete String Quartets / Juilliard String Quartet

Juilliard String Quartet
Release Date: 09/14/2010 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 77119  
Composer:  Béla Bartók
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

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 Read more 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
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 1 in A minor, Op. 7/Sz 40 by Béla Bartók
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1963 
Quartet for Strings no 2 in A minor, Op. 17 by Béla Bartók
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1917; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1963 
Quartet for Strings no 3, Sz 85 by Béla Bartók
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1963 
Quartet for Strings no 4, Sz 91 by Béla Bartók
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1963 
Quartet for Strings no 5, Sz 102 by Béla Bartók
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1963 
Quartet for Strings no 6, Sz 114 by Béla Bartók
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1963 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 still indispensable March 30, 2012 By P. Jacob (London, ON) See All My Reviews "Like so many, I learned the Bartok Quartets through these performances from the original lps (later supplemented by the Vegh). Since giving away my vinyl collection a dozen years ago I haven't heard them, and having enjoyed many other versions, including the earlier and later Julliard and "post-Julliard" versions from the Emerson and Tokyo, I suspected that I could do without Julliard II on cd, which in any case, wasn't available. How wrong was I?! Despite the dated stereo sound, the astonishing finesse and sheer musical intelligence of the playing are perfectly fresh and utterly thrilling. If you love these gorgeous works you can't afford not to know these recordings." Report Abuse
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