The Finnish string quartet Meta4 has now achieved international recognition and regularly plays on the great stages of the world. In their new album, featuring the first and fifth quartets of Béla Bartók, Meta4 turns once again – as a follow up to their hugely successful 2011 recording of Shostakovich quartets – to a program of 20th century masterpieces. There is little doubt that Bartók is among the boldest quartet composers since Beethoven. His irrepressible expression will meet with the equally distinctive style of the four Finns and leads to incredibly expressive, emotionally charged interpretations. The uncompromising musical standards offered by these musicians take hold of the capricious ideas and unorthodox forms of the Hungarian master to deliver what will most likely be the string quartet album of the year.
Through his far-reaching endeavors as composer, performer, educator, and ethnomusicolgist, Béla Bartók emerged as one of the most forceful and influential musical personalities of the twentieth century. Born in Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary (now Romania), on March 25, 1881, Bartók began his musical training with piano studies at the age of five, foreshadowing his lifelong affinity for the instrument. Following his graduation from the Royal Academy of Music in 1901 and the composition of his first mature works – most notably, the symphonic poem Kossuth (1903) – Bartók embarked on one of the classic field studies in the history of ethnomusicology. With fellow countryman and composer Zoltán Kodály, he traveled throughout Hungary ……..From Allmusic
The Végh Quartet was not only one of the finest string quartets from mid-twentieth century Europe, but its style was never subjected to radical change over the years from personnel changes because the four original players remained members for 38 of the 40 years of the ensemble's existence. Its style evolved in subtle ways, of course, but its essential character endured until 1978: the quartet was Central European in its sound, with a bit more prominence given to the cello in order to build tonal qualities from the bottom upward. The Végh Quartet was best known for its cycles – two each – of the Beethoven and Bartók quartets. It also performed and recorded many of the Haydn quartets, as well as numerous other staples of the repertory by Mozart, Schumann, Brahms, and Debussy. For a group that disbanded in 1980, its recordings are still quite popular, with major efforts available in varied reissues from Music & Arts, Archipel, Naïve, and Orfeo.
“The Alban Berg bring all their usual sophistication and Viennese hothouse climate to works which are sometimes illuminated by them, and equally often obscured.” ~BBC Music Magazine
Three transformative works by three Hungarian composers—Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4, Sz. 91; Ligeti’s String Quartet No. 1; and Kurtag’s 12 Microludes for string quartet, Op. 13—conspire to create a program steeped in the incessant sonics of the 20th century.
At 1st sight, they appear to have nothing in common – but disregarding the stylistic elements & a difference of 2 centuries, you soon recognize that both are in a sense, musical architects, who as piano virtuosos were equally interested in miniature forms & inspired by folk music. On the 1 hand you have Scarlatti, who, after moving to Spain in 1729 composed almost exclusively for harpsichord & integrated elements of Spanish folklore into his compositions in an experimental way; on the other hand Bartk, who boosted the recognition of the rich native Hungarian peasant songs to an independent folk art, & was also influenced by Arabic folk music.