In an interview for Australia’s Daily Telegraph, Igor Naidin, violist in the Borodin Quartet says you can play Beethoven and Shostakovich all your life and you’ll always find “something new, something interesting, something unreachable’’. As the Borodin Quartet tour Australia and New Zealand they are fostering great admiration from the critics wherever they go.
Critics of their first concert at Melbourne City Hall write:
“these four Russian grand masters of their craft bring something fresh to the table when they perform something as popular and familiar as Schubert’s Death and the Maiden quartet, or one of Beethoven’s landmark works. [...] the famous sweet and refined Borodin sound and performance style, which has all the class and sophistication of a well-maintained Bentley, has stayed true to the original. [...] They play and breathe as one [...] there is a chill beauty here and you could have heard a pin drop in this performance.”
Steve Moffatt, Daily Telegraph Australia
“In their smooth, perfectly balanced sound, impeccable intonation, and nigh-perfect moulding of the shape of each phrase and utterance, they are peerless. [...The Beethoven Opus 18] highlighted perfect clarity, balance and a tone of unblemished creamy smoothness [...The Shostakovich No 11 was] bleak and spare yet utterly compelling. [...] Only an ensemble with such supreme control of fine tonal variation could sustain its quiet expanses so breathlessly. [...] [In Schubert’s Death and the Maiden] glorious smoothness and transparency of sound and expressive balance in a state of glowing equilibrium. [...] Nothing in the slow movement was under- or overdone, except for the translucent beauty of texture.”
Peter McCallum, The Sydney Morning Herald
“The quartet’s amazing control and veiled tones was a pleasure to listen to. [...] The standard of blend from the individual players was exquisite. We were spoilt for future experiences by hearing quartet players moving so perfectly as an homogenous whole. This exemplary level of ensemble skill is not always heard in string quartet concerts.”
Paul Nolan, Sydney Arts Guide
And at the Conservatorium Theatre, Brisbane:
“This great quartet balanced tradition and innovation in vibrant performances of Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. [...] The highlight was surely the Shostakovich [...] The musicians clearly know this work intimately, and they conveyed the menacing drones, the savagery and the final emotional emptiness with great understanding and superb technique. [...] An admittedly conservative programme, it was magnificently performed for an appreciative full house by a superb group who cherish their long tradition but are not ruled by it.”
Michael O’Loghlin, Sinfini Music
“There can be no greater experience in chamber music than the Borodin Quartet playing Shostakovich’s String Quartet No 8, still a jaw-dropper five decades on from when the quartet first played it for the composer himself. [...] With the quartet’s new generation of members all schooled in the original grand tradition, there is no bold new interpretation, no onstage salesmanship, nothing at all in fact to excite the wheel-reinventing recent graduate of an arts marketing course. No, consider it well. This is the thing itself, unaccommodated Shostakovich. It’s the authority that makes the impression.
Time stands still, we are standing there confronting the ruins of man’s inhumanity to man, the performance so focused, so perfectly balanced within the ensemble, the tone so immaculately blended that there is simply no capacity to look away.”
Martin Buuzacott, The Australian
The Borodin Quartet have also been leading masterclasses and working with musicians as part of the educational development programme put together by Musica Viva. Throughout September and October the Quartet performs in Australian cities Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Hobart, Newcastle and in New Zealand performing in Wellington, Auckland, Chistchurch, Dunedin and Napier.