BARTÓK 6 String Quartets Emerson String 4776322

. . . the Emerson's Shostakovich cycle . . . is played with brilliant technique . . . their precision, attention to detail, and keen ensemble work wonders with Bartók's leaner, terser mode of expression . . . The Emersons, meanwhile, really dig into the many animated episodes -- they take the Second Quartet's Allegro molto capriccioso at a whirlwind speed, crisply attack the opening of the fourth Quartet (notice those slashing double stops) and blow through the second movement like a dust storm. But speed is not an issue, since they are able to consistently articulate rhythmic accents cleanly, follow Bartók's roller-coaster dynamics faithfully, and provide clarity to his varying textures. That they are able to sustain such a high level of excitement and, perhaps more importantly, surprise, in these well-known works elevates this set to classic status.

. . . [these recordings are impressive for their] massive tonal projection and superlative clarity, each textural strand coloured and made audible to a degree possibly unrivalled in the recorded history of these works. DG's close, brightly lit, yet never oppressive recording quality must share some of the credit . . . Combine this with controlled vehemence and razor-sharp unanimity, and you have a formidable alliance of virtues . . . The performances are compellingly intense and passionate, and by no means indiscriminately so . . . one of the most exciting chamber music recordings of recent years . . . [the Emersons bring all these qualities, first heard in 1988,] plus something that was perhaps rarer then than it is now: sheer sonic beauty.

Seinerzeit haben die Emersons dafür einen Gramophone Award ("Grammy") erhalten, nun wird die Einspielung in der Serie "The World's finest recordings" wieder aufgelegt. Zum Glück. Denn kaum eine andere Aufnahme zeigt uns das Quartettschaffen Bartóks in einem so gleißenden Licht. Alle Strukturen werden offenbar, das virtuose und immens saubere Spiel der vier Musiker schenkt uns einen selten klaren Blick auf die Komposition. Jeder Satz behält seinen ihm eigenen Charakter, die Vielfalt wird weit aufgefächert.