I award this three stars, not because they are miming, as suggested by the reviewer above, but because it is such a huge disappointment that only three of Bartók`s infamous six quartets are represented. I doubt that I am alone in thinking of the six as a unit, thus to have just the three rankles too deeply for me to commit to actually purchasing what are admittedly a set of superb performances. With regards the miming, I have watched the three quartets we are given, 2, 3, and 6, twice through now, and cannot for the life of me see the joins that might support this assertion. I cannot help but wonder why they would do such a thing? It would be harder to convincingly mime an authentic performance of these masterpieces than to actually just play them.
For anyone feeling that Bartok in general, or these works in particular, are coldly intellectual or difficult, they only need see the gesture with which the Takács finish the No.3 here to be given an immediate visual and visceral appreciation of the vehement passion locked up in these extraordinary works. It is my belief that these pieces are considered difficult because it has taken all these decades for them to come into their own, and to find interpreters with a vision and grasp of Bartók`s intentions, to make them accessible for a global audience. Among those interpreters the Takács are undeniably at the forefront.
I am very glad to have seen these performances on the TV, and have been in a position to record them so as to watch them a few times through. The snatches of interview and the clear and visceral communication of the visual medium have served to take me a little further along on my journey into these ever more fascinating works. However, unless they decide to go back and finish the job and give us the other three, my compulsive completist itch will not allow me to settle for half measures and actually acquire them in their current form.