Bartók String Quartets

I'm listening a recording of the Emerson Quartet play Bartók String Quartets while I work in my study, and I wonder...

   ... how do they do it?

   and... why did we even attempt Bartók back in college?

   and... how does David Finckel sound so good?

man. although, i must say that i gained a level of appreciation for the quartets that i would never have attained without having played two of 'em.