Bartok: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 2; String Quartet No. 3; String Quartet No. 4; String Quartet No. 5; String Quartet No. 6

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COMPOSERS: Bartok
LABELS: DG 20th Century Classics
WORKS: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 2; String Quartet No. 3; String Quartet No. 4; String Quartet No. 5; String Quartet No. 6
PERFORMER: Tokyo String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 445 241-2 ADD (1977/81)
This standard-bearing Bartók cycle from the Tokyo Quartet, issued complete just two years before the introduction of CD, sounded strikingly brilliant on vinyl. Now digitalised (hardly before time!) these outstanding performances emerge with voracious immediacy and remarkable detail. The playing is second to none; some may prefer the added authority of the Végh Quartet, who studied these works under the composer himself, whilst the Emersons (also on DG) offer vivid, though hardly superior accounts, in fine modern sound. Nonetheless, the Tokyo players want nothing in idiomatic flair, dynamism and unflagging virtuosity. Essential repertoire, prodigiously displayed. Michael Jameson

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