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Belcea Quartet|Béla Bartók : String Quartets

Béla Bartók : String Quartets

Quatuor Belcea

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In this 2008 EMI Classics release, the Belcea Quartet presents Béla Bartók's six string quartets with phenomenal accuracy and assured style, though this British-based ensemble falls short in expression and fails to plumb the depths of these landmarks of twentieth century chamber music. The cycle makes extreme demands on a virtuoso string quartet's technique and experience, and these fine musicians obviously have the chops to handle the trickiest rhythms and the knottiest contrapuntal interchanges, and they possess a thorough understanding of Bartók's highly varied effects, moods, and musical allusions. Whether conveying the post-Romantic richness of the String Quartets No. 1 and No. 2, the expressionistic tensions of No. 3 and No. 4, or the arch neo-classicism of No. 5 and No. 6, the Belcea Quartet is quite aware of the developments in Bartók's oeuvre and creates credible representations of his changing styles. Yet at the emotional core, the group holds back as if on the brink of the abyss, and the passion, violence, and pathos of these brooding masterpieces are only partly suggested, never wholeheartedly embraced. If these quartets are primarily viewed as intellectual in nature, one may consider the performances to be sufficiently clear eyed and intelligent, with a level of poise and control that works rather well. Yet if the quartets are regarded as the profoundest expressions of Bartók's spirit or musical identity, then the Belcea's performances are not as inspired or penetrating as they need to be and are insufficiently compelling to rank with the greatest recordings.
© TiVo

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Béla Bartók : String Quartets

Belcea Quartet

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Quatuor à cordes n° 1 (Béla Bartók)

1
String Quartet No.1, Sz.40: I. Lento
00:09:05

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

2
String Quartet No.1, Sz.40: II. Poco a poco accelerando al Allegretto
00:11:07

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

3
String Quartet No.1, Sz.40: III. Allegro Vivace
00:10:45

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

Quatuor à cordes n° 3, Sz. 85 (Béla Bartók)

4
String Quartet No. 3, Sz.85: I. Prima parte: Moderato
00:04:40

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

5
String Quartet No. 3, Sz.85: II. Seconda parte: Allegro
00:05:22

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

6
String Quartet No. 3, Sz.85: III. Ricapitolazione della prima parte: Moderato - Coda: Allergo molto
00:04:59

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

Quatuor à cordes n° 5, Sz. 102 (Béla Bartók)

7
String Quartet No. 5, Sz.102: I. Allegro
00:07:38

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

8
String Quartet No. 5, Sz.102: II. Adagio molto
00:06:01

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

9
String Quartet No. 5, Sz.102: III. Scherzo (Alla bulgarese) & Trio
00:04:54

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

10
String Quartet No. 5, Sz.102: IV. Andante
00:05:17

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

11
String Quartet No. 5, Sz.102: V. Finale (Allegro vivace)
00:06:53

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

DISC 2

Quatuor à cordes n° 2, op. 17 Sz. 67 (Béla Bartók)

1
String Quartet No. 2, Sz.67: I. Moderato
00:10:06

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

2
String Quartet No. 2, Sz.67: II. Allegro molto capriccioso
00:07:46

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

3
String Quartet No. 2, Sz.67: III. Lento
00:08:33

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

Quatuor à cordes n° 4, Sz. 91 (Béla Bartók)

4
String Quartet No. 4, Sz.91: I. Allegro
00:06:11

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

5
String Quartet No. 4, Sz.91: II. Prestissimo, con sordino
00:02:56

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

6
String Quartet No. 4, Sz.91: III. Non troppo lento
00:05:59

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

7
String Quartet No. 4, Sz.91: IV. Allegretto pizzicato
00:02:48

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

8
String Quartet No. 4, Sz.91: V. Allegro molto
00:05:56

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

Quatuor à cordes n° 6, Sz. 114 (Béla Bartók)

9
String Quartet No. 6, Sz.114: I. Mesto
00:07:40

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

10
String Quartet No. 6, Sz.114: II. Mesto
00:08:04

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

11
String Quartet No. 6, Sz.114: III. Mesto
00:07:12

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

12
String Quartet No. 6, Sz.114: IV. Mesto
00:06:39

Bela Bartok, Composer - John Fraser, Producer, Produced by - Belcea Quartet, Featured Vocalist, Performance, MainArtist

© 2007 EMI Records Ltd. ℗ 2007 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

Album Description

In this 2008 EMI Classics release, the Belcea Quartet presents Béla Bartók's six string quartets with phenomenal accuracy and assured style, though this British-based ensemble falls short in expression and fails to plumb the depths of these landmarks of twentieth century chamber music. The cycle makes extreme demands on a virtuoso string quartet's technique and experience, and these fine musicians obviously have the chops to handle the trickiest rhythms and the knottiest contrapuntal interchanges, and they possess a thorough understanding of Bartók's highly varied effects, moods, and musical allusions. Whether conveying the post-Romantic richness of the String Quartets No. 1 and No. 2, the expressionistic tensions of No. 3 and No. 4, or the arch neo-classicism of No. 5 and No. 6, the Belcea Quartet is quite aware of the developments in Bartók's oeuvre and creates credible representations of his changing styles. Yet at the emotional core, the group holds back as if on the brink of the abyss, and the passion, violence, and pathos of these brooding masterpieces are only partly suggested, never wholeheartedly embraced. If these quartets are primarily viewed as intellectual in nature, one may consider the performances to be sufficiently clear eyed and intelligent, with a level of poise and control that works rather well. Yet if the quartets are regarded as the profoundest expressions of Bartók's spirit or musical identity, then the Belcea's performances are not as inspired or penetrating as they need to be and are insufficiently compelling to rank with the greatest recordings.
© TiVo

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