Etudes (French for “studies”) are instrumental works, usually requiring considerable athleticism or dexterity, intended to help develop particular technical skills at whatever instrument. The great ones, like those of Chopin or Debussy, transcend the level of being mere exercises, and are great works of music, frequently preformed in concert halls. Bartok wrote only these 3. He performed them for the first (& last) time in 1918 to an unprepared and shocked audience.
This performance is by a young (age 25 at the time of this recording) Russian pianist Mark Taratushkin. For whatever reason, even though I have heard various recordings of these works, his performance here really impressed me, somehow transcending the sheer virtuosity required. Bravo!