The Chiara String Quartet will release its next album, Bartók by Heart, on Azica Records on August 26, 2016. The 2-CD set includes Béla Bartók’s six string quartets, played entirely from memory. The Chiara will celebrate the new album with two performances of the complete cycle of Bartók’s String Quartets, played by heart, at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY on August 30 and 31 and at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL on September 7 and 8.
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.
Watch The Chiara perform Bartók's String Quartet No. 4: III. Non troppo lento by heart:
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.”