The Chiara Quartet performs all six Bartók quartets by heart, a feat never attempted before. Bartók’s quartets highlight an incredible life in music, from his journey uncovering rare folk music of Europe and Northern Africa to his final exodus from Hungary to America on the eve of World War II. This cycle brings his amazing, colorful works to life in vivid performances.
Hungarian composer Béla Bartók sought to capture the essence of folk music in his string quartets, and in his travels across Europe and North Africa, he documented hundreds of hours of folk music, meticulously transcribing it. Much of this music had never before been written down, and had instead been passed down from generation to generation in an oral tradition.
Of the process of recording Bartók’s string quartets from memory, Chiara cellist Gregory Beaver says, “When we began working on memorizing the Bartók quartets, we found that Bartók’s process worked in reverse almost magically. Many of the devilishly difficult passages in his music became natural when performed without printed music. Through the memorization process, we are able to return Bartók’s music to the realm of the unrecorded folk music he so lovingly captured. We hope that by sharing our performances, Bartók’s remarkable music continues its journey from ear to ear and generation to generation just as the folk music that inspired it.”
Bartók: String Quartet No. 1
Bartók: String Quartet No. 3
Bartók: String Quartet No. 5