BARTOK – Complete String Quartets – CD of the Week, BBC Radio 3

BARTOK Complete String Quartets

Heath Quartet

BBC Radio 3, CD of the Week, 10 June 2017

Harmonia Mundi HMM90766162  2-CD set @ £15.75*

“their performances deserve to be considered alongside the best … they are fine accounts … The careful balancing of textures and clarity of the part writing are regularly impressive. The unfolding of the counterpoint in the first two quartets, and whirlwind delicacy and transparency of the final section of the Third, are spellbinding. And their treatment of the deeply tragic finale of the Sixth, which never becomes lachrymose, could hardly be bettered … the finale of the Fifth generates real momentum … the totality of the set is undeniably convincing.” Guardian CD of the Week, 7 June 2017

“The Heath Quartet play each with an electrifying intensity, maintaining an irresistible impetus and negotiating abrupt character changes with aplomb.”  The Sunday Times

“I’d call this a radical re-think of the Bartók quartet cycle … Where the Heath Quartet scores is in its flexible approach, and the ease with which tempos relate to each other, especially in the largely romantic First Quartet, a work that in the wrong hands can seem episodic. … this set has much to teach us about the greatest quartet cycle beyond Beethoven.” Rob Cowan – Classical Ear, 9 June 2017

About the music and the Heath Quartet’s previous CDs…

The string quartet was of central importance to Bartók throughout his career. His six quartets were written (between 1907 and 1939) at crucial turning points in the composer’s creative development. From the elegiac tone of Quartet no.1 (reflecting an unhappy love affair) to the sadness and wry parody of no.6, composed on the eve of World War II, by way of the mirror forms and atmospheric ‘night music’ of nos.4 and 5, they represent perhaps the biggest interpretative challenge in the genre alongside the Beethoven quartets. A challenge triumphantly met here by the Heath Quartet.

Future plans include complete cycles of Jörg Widmann’s string quartets at Kilkenny Festival, Berlin’s Boulez Saal and Wigmore Hall, as well as numerous appearances at summer festivals in the United Kingdom and beyond.

Their debut recording of Tippett’s string quartets (Wigmore Hall Live WHLIVE00802 @ £14.25*) received widespread acclaim and won the Gramophone Chamber Disk of the Year in 2016.

A subsequent release on Harmonia Mundi of Tchaikovsky Quartets 1 & 3 (HMU907665 @ £14.25*) was selected as Disc of the Week by both The Sunday Times and BBC Radio 3.

“an unqualified triumph … as a former Tippett scholar I rejoiced at the gleaming new insights provided at every twist and turn of sustained arguments … an essential set for any true music lover.” The Strad, April 2016

Russian interpreters have tended to dominate this repertoire in the catalogue, so it’s good to hear these outstanding young British musicians in still relatively neglected works…the Heath players pour out Tchaikovsky’s grief for his friend with a depth of tone and virtuosity – in the allegros – that matches the finest Russians on disc. A notable debut.” The Sunday Times

Harmonia Mundi HMM90766162  2-CD set @ £15.75*

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