Bela Bartok-String Quartets nos. 1, 3, and 4 Bela Bartoks six string quartets show him not only as one of the most important Hungarian composers, but also as one of the great cosmopolitan artists of the 20th century. In these works, which trace a thread through his entire career, Bartok found a completely original way of combining the folk music which he researched with the great quartet tradition as established by Haydn, Beethoven, and Brahms. Bartk undertook the business of quartet writing with particular seriousness. There was no other choice, given the presence of Beethoven and Brahms as his most important models. In particular, the last quartets of Beethoven left a deep and abiding impression on Bartoks six works, which recall their illustrious ancestors in the frequent contrapuntal treatment of themes, the complex melodic development throughout the instrumental web, the sometimes capricious and at other times dancelike extravert quality of the rhythm, and also in Bartoks tendencies towards experimentation with structure and form. The First String Quartet, Opus 7, largely composed in 1908, is the first result, and it is an impressively mature one. The themes, fugal techniques, and closely worked structure recall Beethovens Opus 130 and 131. In addition, this three-movement quartet is characterized by a strongly romantic expressive quality, with a trace of Wagners Tristan and a mournful Hungarian folk melody in its make-up.Download booklet
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