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Dip Your Ears, No. 8

Béla Bartók, The Six String Quartets,
Takács Quartet

The most important musical statements in chamber music after Haydn are Beethoven's 16 masterpieces and, in the 20th century, the six works of Béla Bartók and the 15 utterly private and haunting works of Shostakovich. Bartok's sometimes thorny, spiky, often folk-influenced quartets (listen to #4!) all have their place in this pantheon of the genre. To capture the joy of that music you really ought to hear them live. In absence of that opportunity, try these interpretations by the formidable Takács Quartet from Bartók's native Hungary. We have splendid accounts from the Emerson (DG) and the Chilingirian Quartets (Chandos), but the Takács, combining the best of 30 years' experience with the fresh blood of new members, give these works the vivacious, joyful, and exuberant music making they need and deserve. The fun of delving into those pulsing rhythms is palpable, the musicianship impeccable. Do yourself a favor and listen to it on headphones; be ready to be bowled over.

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