The Juilliard 1963 recording of the Bartok quartets has always been the gold standard of these works for me, and still is. I'm afraid my response to the earlier recorded performances was rather, "very nice, but can we get to the '63 set now". It was an injustice to these very fine performances. If the technical command of these works had been perfected in the intervening years, and if, indeed, "THE" Juilliard for me are the various formations with Robert Mann and Claus Adam, the earlier group, with founding members of the Juillard Arthur Winograd on cello and Robert Koff as 2nd violin, inscribed a committed and passionate performance of the six quartets to records. The fourth quartet has never been so accessible to me.
The sound is not bad, although my records are original early 1950's pressings and they were well used before I got them. The very outermost grooves of the first and second quartet were challenging to deal with. I think the distortion from groove damage has been minimized to acceptable levels in the renovation. The best sounding of the set are 3-6, though I think 1-3 are perfectly acceptable given that they were taken from well used 70 year old records. I haven't listened to the Pristine Classical renovation of these recordings, though they usually do a good job, even if sometimes things can sound a bit souped up. If you're interested in the recordings, why not give these renovations a listen. If you like the performances but not the sound, Pristine Classical will be available. I'm guessing they had cleaner sources than I, but as always any comments on the sound would help to improve my practices.
The tracks have been numbered for 3 CD's as indicated on the notes provided with the linked material.
The folder with all files for the six quartets is here: