Bartok – String Quartet 5 (SQ overview)

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Bartók’s fifth quartet was composed in 1934 beneath the patronage of the rich American Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. It is a work much less dissonant and spiky than the third or 4th quartets, to me.
The first motion has robust rhythmic motifs and abrasive melodic motifs in juxtaposition. The melodic music in the direction of the top of the motion harks again to those earlier juxtaposed themes however performed in numerous methods. The second motion, adagio molto, with its quick phrases and delicate harmonies is creepily eery and an instance of Bartok’s ‘evening music’. The center motion is a full of life Scherzo «within the Bulgarian fashion.» it makes use of highly effective, uneven rhythms that had been apparently enormously impressed by Bulgarian folks songs and options altering time signatures to a extremely testing 10-beat sample in mid-movement. The 4th motion nearly mirrors the 2nd one in that it begins gingerly, with wonderful pizzicati and is very harmonic. The tip of the motion is beautiful because the violins make «celestial chords» alongside the viola. It is a significantly pleasurable a part of the quartet for me The finale is pressing and a bit bit odd in its ending. As a substitute of ending with a charged climax or race to the road Bartok briefly halts issues very briefly and introduces one thing that feels like a grotesque fairground carousel. I like how the cello & viola play the identical tune because the violins however in a special key, making a conflict on this motion and that each one quartet gamers are requested to play «with indifference.» Key moments for me are rhythmic drive within the first motion, a powerful starting to the Alla Bulgarese motion and an abrasive finale. With so many various types there’s all the time lot of disagreement on Bartok performances however I do search for a little bit of umph so although I loved and would suggest many, a couple of first rate recordings or large hitters did not make it intoy record under (Heath, Jerusalem, Calidore, and many others). I feel this will find yourself being fairly a contentious record however there have been a couple of that I did not get to listen to (Parker, and many others). I’ll add them at a later date.

Here is the Doric Quartet performing it, reside.

Properly really useful

Belcea – strongly nuanced with some fierce assaults (take a look at the outer actions) there’s nonetheless loads of element that I did not spot in different accounts (had been these interpretive decisions)?
Euclid – shut, resonant sound and this can be a quartet who’ve completely immersed themselves in Bartok’s distinctive soundworld. An interesting and refreshing efficiency with a very fascinating scherzo.
Rubin – bassy, resonant however dedicated from a recording I anticipated little from. I like an ensemble unafraid to present their Bartok some welly and take dangers.
ABQ – highly effective and tense. There is a tonal heft right here that is distinctive to this quartet and while not every part is ideal their crystal clear intonation and timbre are very good.
Vegh (1972) – element and readability are the cornerstones of this one however a tad extra hearth would have labored much more wonders. Nonetheless, beneath the Vegh the fifth flows organically and I a lot choose it to their 1954 recording.
Mikrokosmos – a bit too edgy within the slower actions however in any other case their lean tone and reducing assaults are successful they usually use the scherzo and finale actually successfully.
Vermeer – one other efficiency from a typically uncared for set however the sound of this one is great. Yeah, the violins generate a bit an excessive amount of vibrato however their heat gave me a broad grin.
Guarneri (1974) – large particular person and ensemble taking part in from the Guarneri who actually really feel this music. Pizzicati are fantastically carried off and there is some superb viola taking part in. A pleasing and sudden shock.
Arcanto – other than a barely underplayed intro to the scherzo elsewhere there is a energy and maturity on this efficiency that had me returning to it usually. Excellent recorded sound.
*Zehetmair – in the event you can take care of the uber-resonant acoustic (which sadly obscures busy passages) this can be a efficiency properly value investigating.

Closely really useful

Keller – I am going to admit that I actually wasnt certain about this at first nevertheless it actually grew on me because the week went on. Full-bodied and cohesive and sounds higher with every play
Hungarian (1962) – vibrant and aggressive account with loads of allure and edge with out dotting the i’s. Particularly spectacular violin taking part in all through.
Alexander – the overall energy of the Alexander in combining nice articulation, robust dynamics and ideal articulation (with terrific recorded sound) offered it to me.
Diotima – earthier sound however with actual persona and best balances. A efficiency that is not afraid to take dangers and pays dividends due to this.
Chiara – Bartok by coronary heart it says on the field and it sounds it. Probably the greatest recorded SQ performances I’ve heard up to now few years and the cello/viola sound is gorgeous sufficient to promote this by itself however every part else is superlative. Right here in the mean time however might find yourself on the high.
Takacs (Hungaroton/Decca ) – two very completely different approaches however they’re equally dedicated. While the Hungaroton account has a youthful, bucolic enthusiasm the Decca launch is fuller-sounding, with forceful assaults and brevity. Each are very wonderful.
Arcadia – one other that improved considerably with subsequent performs. Sturdy sense of ensemble, on this ‘extra accessible’ and nearly romantic method to Bartok. Love that finale.
Tokyo (DG 1979) – while their later recording is a bit underwhelming this one is assured and fantastically paced with a powerful, rhythmic thrust.
Vertavo – gradual actions are dealt with delicately and the three others are impressed with divine interaction, beautiful violin tone and an actual depth of recorded sound. Do not miss this one.

Prime picks

I actually could not select between this lot as all of them had that additional particular high quality and on completely different days I would have all of them on the high of my record.

High-quality Arts (1958) – amongst all of the variations of this quartet I surveyed this and the Juilliard made me cease in my tracks (that is to not say they had been higher than the others on this remaining record). Fairly merely the High-quality Arts’ idiomatic method is deeply engrossing. Completely faultless and completely unmannered. I doubt I’ve heard the finale performed higher. Though the recorded sound is exhibiting its age that is too convincing to low cost on any stage.
Juilliard (1963) – All of the Juilliard recordings are recommendable however this one takes it for me. Vividly recorded, particularly contemplating its age, and with loads of air across the devices they create a singular and engrossing soundworld which reaches a crescendo of their turbulent finale. Some might discover this a bit too aggressive (however not me).
Parkanyi – the jazzy syncopation within the scherzo, the pizzicati of the andante and the warmth of the fifth are dealt with comfortably and effortlessly on this Praga sonic deal with. Coached by Sandor Vegh, the Parkanyi reveal ranges of element that arguably even forged the Vegh of their shade. Open, spacious sound and an idiomatic deal with.
Emerson – I love how the Emerson take a extra pressing, austere stance on performing their fifth. They’re technically excellent however present nice depth within the gradual actions and there is luggage of element within the outer actions. For as soon as DG gave them best sound right here and with it is peppy intro their scherzo had me from the off. The andante is eerily chic. Nonetheless assume the Emerson are to ‘cool’? Hear once more.


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