Bartok: String Quartets Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 6 review
25th October 2008
The Takacs Quartet speak articulately about Bartok's music, and succeed in bringing to it a folky, human warmth that can sometimes be missing. This is music of extraordinary power and depth. I have listened to the recordings many times, and seen the Third in concert; there is no doubt that watching the players in action can help to make more sense of the music. It's music of such intensity, however, that you may wish to watch each piece separately, and return to them later.
I have a few gripes. Most significantly, the disc contains only three of the advertised four quartets - the fourth is not played (but there's still ample here to make it an extremely rewarding experience). I found the setting a bit too cluttered - a picture-festooned stately home interior gave the eye a bit too much to get distracted by and the overly posh setting didin't sit well with the earthiness of the music. Didn't like the waistcoats, either! I'd have preferred a plainer background with less garish lighting to focus more fully on the music. Oh, and the final credits list the members of the Bartok Quartet [sic.]
Small criticisms, though, this extraordinarily moving and engaging music is communicated with remarkable skill by this splendid quartet.