For example, we might say that we are not Aryans – because in the final analysis ‘Aryan’ means ‘Indo-European’; we Magyars, however, are Finno-Ugrics, yes, and what is more, perhaps racially Northern Turks, consequently not at all Indo-European and therefore non-Aryan. In hearing this stellar ensemble play, one is struck not so much by Bartók's unusual musical details or his myriad technical devices -- the quartets are practically a bible of advanced string techniques -- but instead, the listener is treated to "big-picture" interpretations that emphasize the shape of the movements and their relations to each other as coherent musical structures. Movements 1 and 4 take their expressive lead from this introductory Mesto, so at its outer ends – the first and last movements – the quartet plumbs a level of deep, spiritual sadness. Bartók’s String Quartet No. Bartók’s String Quartet No. A beautiful, knowing piece: helped me discover these extraordinary quartets. Back then to the second movement of Bartók’s String Quartet No. The triplet theme is also recalled, now in a setting of profound desolation, and the "Scotch snap" tune makes a wistful appearance. If after my death they want to name a street after me, or to erect a memorial tablet to me in a public place, then my desire is this:  as long as what were formerly Oktogon-Ter and Korond in Budapest are named after those for whom they are at present named [meaning Hitler and Mussolini], and further, as long as there is in Hungary any square or street named for these two, then neither square nor street nor public building in Hungary is to be named for me, and no memorial tablet is to be erected in a public place.”. 59 Nos. 17), String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Sz. String Quartet No. The third movement of the quartet is even weirder than the second. 85, BB 93: II. Things didn’t work out that way. 6 was written in early 1939, at a very dark time in his personal life and in history. How I could then continue to live or work in such a country is inconceivable.”. When Bartók wrote that letter – which clearly indicates his intention to leave Hungary if events forced him to do so – he was 57 years old and not in the best of health; his mother was quite ill, and he was the sole bread earner for his family. Following the mesto introduction, the second movement – labeled “march” and structured in three-part, “A-B-A” form – opens and closes with a strange, out-of-step, almost comical little march. Of particular interest are the inner movements, movements two and three. Daring in virtuosity, vigorous in interpretation, and spellbinding in effect, the Takács Quartet has recorded one of the truly great sets of Bartók's monumental String Quartets (6), seldom matched and surely never surpassed. Through the fall of 1939, as Bartók increasingly felt the need to leave Hungary, his mother’s illness entered its terminal stage. 2 & 3; Bartók: String Quartets Nos. Bartok: String Quartets 1-6 Bela Bartok. 91, BB 95, String Quartet No. The cello ends it all with a question mark, plucked chords based on the "mesto" motto. London's exceptional reproduction captures the ensemble with delicious resonance; while this takes some of the bite off the harshest dissonances, it adds a perceptible luster to Bartók's palette and is preferable to the aridity of some recordings. Bartók began composing his String Quartet No. Bartók: The 6 String Quartets Takács Quartet. By August of 1934, Hitler had outlawed all opposition political parties and assumed the mantle of the German presidency and Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Along with his friend and colleague Zoltán Kodály, Bartók received a questionnaire from the newly Nazified publishing house, asking him about his ancestry and allegiance: “Are you of German blood, a related race, or non-Aryan?”, “Of course neither I nor Kodály filled it out: such inquisitions are contrary to right and law. The second theme is a folk-like melody, with a prominent "Scotch snap" rhythm. 3, Sz. 1 in A minor, Sz. And the fourth movement, in which that theme is called upon for almost all the material, is pervaded by despair. 85, BB 93, Ricapitulazione della prima parte: Moderato - Coda: Allegro molto, String Quartet No. 4, 3 & 6, Bartók: String Quartets 1 - 6; Divertimento, Béla Bartók: Les Quatuors, Vol. Béla Bartók: Intégrale des quatuors à Cordes, Béla Bartók: The String Quartets (1954 Stereo), Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, The RIAS Amadeus Quartet Recordings, Vol. I previously discussed his first and second quartets, in September and November 2016, respectively. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. Seconda parte: Allegro - Ricapitulazione della prima parte. The fact is, Bartók is satirizing his own Hungarian musical roots, and by association, the politics of his Hungarian nation. But things are not right. 6: “My burial is to be the simplest possible. 4 in C major, Sz. Braving wartime travel, Bartók and his wife arrived in the United States in 1940. In the fourth movement, rather than giving way to a lively finale (the original plan as indicated by Bartók's sketches), the motto continues on to become the conclusion itself. When the Nazi’s marched into and occupied Austria in March of 1938, Bartók suspected that it was only a matter of time before Hungary was occupied as well. Just days later, on September 1, Germany invaded Poland and the war in Europe began. Ghostly tremolandi accompany the return of the "mesto" theme; there is a moment of half-hearted protest that dwindles to resignation. The return of the march is bizarre, with extremely high octave doubling from the first violin and a filling out of the implied triadic harmonies which create an ironic, hallucinatory effect. The cartoon-like strutting (or should we more accurately call it “goose-stepping? 6 which was his last string quartet, and is in four movements. 4: Modernism, Bartók & Kodály: The Complete String Quartets, Beethoven: String Quartets, Op. 4.5 out of 5 stars 12. It was there that he lived – in “comfortable exile”, as he would say – and it was at Manhattan’s West Side Hospital that he died, on September 26, 1945 at the age of 64. 6. 3 in C sharp major, Sz. 3 - No. The "mesto" theme functions both as a motto and as the source of much of the quartet's thematic substance. Given when this music was composed – during the fall of 1939 – the message here is pretty much impossible to miss. Bartók left for the United States almost immediately. Thank you very much for this beautiful write-up. Another question runs thus: ‘Where and when were you wounded?’ Answer: ‘March, 1938, in Vienna!’”. The works he composed in the United States include the Concerto for Orchestra, the Third Piano Concerto, the Sonata for Solo Violin, and the Viola Concerto. 5 & 6, Sz 102 & 114, Béla Bartók: Complete String Quartets (The 1954 Mono Cycle), Historical Recordings and Previously Unissued Public Performances, 1937-1968 [Box Set], Bartók: String Quartets 1, 3, 4 & 6; 44 Duos, Vol. Bartók’s mother died just a few weeks after he completed the quartet, clearing the way for his departure from Hungary. That this march is scored for a string quartet – which is, with all due respect, not an ensemble likely to create the sort of militant punch a march demands – only adds to the irony: it is a small ensemble, depicting the actions and ambitions of small men. But within the context of the entire quartet, and following on the heels of its Mesto introduction, this grotesque becomes quite ominous. The subsequent Marcia is bitter and ironic, and the "Scotch snap" rhythm is prominent. By Béla Bartók. The juxtaposition of the comic march with the discombobulated Hungarian music reflects Bartók’s revulsion with both Nazi militarism and his country’s acquiescence to that militarism. There would be no stopping him and his twisted regime until his death eleven years later, in April of 1945. For its third appearance, the "mesto" ritornello is in three-part harmony; it leads to a rude "Burlesca," with vulgar stamping rhythms and a melody reminiscent of the "teasing songs" prevalent in Eastern European folk music. Next. He began making plans to leave Hungary, despite his desire to stay as long as his mother was alive. Over it might be written: Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch’entrate – “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”. 3 and 4 -- sound utterly natural, transparently structured, and deeply communicative. Audio CD. Bartók’s disgust with the politics of his Hungarian nation is well illustrated by the following passage from his will, written soon after the completion of his String Quartet No. His mother died in December. In a way it’s too bad, because one could make some pretty good jokes in answering. Béla Bartók – pianist, composer, Hungarian patriot and a resident of the Hungarian capitol of Budapest – observed the rise of Nazism with undisguised revulsion. 6 was written in early 1939, at a very dark time in his personal life and in history. At the center of the movement is a truly bizarre section of music. His health was bad, and in the fall of 1943 he fell ill with what turned out to be Leukemia. 5 in B flat major, Sz. The first theme is in quick triplets that are chromatically sinuous. 40, BB 52 (Op. $108.02. Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author. 6 in D major, Sz. The form he devised for the String Quartet No. His years in the United States were not easy ones; at the age of 59 he had to learn a new language, accustom himself to an entirely new culture, and watch from afar while Europe went up in flames. Adolf Hitler came to power when he was appointed German Chancellor – the head of the government – on January 30, 1933. 5, No. 5 & 6, Bartók: String Quartets Nos. Is this music a strange and terrible commentary on the “Dance with Death” Bartók’s mother was engaged in while he composed the quartet? Hungarian composer Bela Bartok [1881-1945] wrote six string quartets. Only 1 left in stock - order soon. These recordings are dedicated to Katia Elena Setzer, who was born sometime between the sessions for the Second and Third Quartets. In the central part, the "Scotch snap" theme from the first movement is mused upon before the burlesque returns, this time entirely in pizzicato. Daring in virtuosity, vigorous in interpretation, and spellbinding in effect, the Takács Quartet has recorded one of the truly great sets of Bartók's monumental String Quartets (6), seldom matched and surely never surpassed. In 1938, immediately following the Nazi takeover of Austria, Bartók’s Vienna-based publisher, Universal Editions, was “Nazified”. This is accompanied by high trills from the violins and harsh, guitar-like strumming on the viola. His first American apartment was in Queens, in Forest Hills; his last was at 309 West 57th Street, just a few blocks from Carnegie Hall.