Even before his String Quartet no. 3 appeared in print in 1929, Bartók was already working on a fourth in the summer of 1928. This five-movement work is arranged symmetrically around a highly expressive middle movement dominated by the cello, and calls for various playing techniques such as pizzicato glissandi and the famous “Bartók pizzicato” in which the string is snapped audibly against the fingerboard. Premiered to great success in London in February 1929, it was published in late 1929/early 1930 - however with so many errors that a revised edition of the score was issued already in 1932.
In their edition, László Somfai and Zsombor Németh have also consulted Bartók’s letters for interesting details about performing the work. These are given as footnotes in this Urtext edition. In addition, the “Notes on performance practice”, which are already obligatory in Henle’s Bartók editions, provide information on performing the Bartók pizzicato and on many other issues.