Borodin Quartet: Artist in Focus

8 January 2024

This week’s #RAArtistinFocus is the Borodin Quartet! Founded in 1945, the Borodin Quartet have been celebrated for their insight and authority of chamber music repertoire for nearly eighty years. The Quartet is universally recognised for its genuine interpretation of Russian music, generating critical acclaim all over the world; the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes about them “here we have not four individual players, but a single sixteen-stringed instrument of great virtuosity.” Having just completed a successful tour to China, the Borodin Quartet are returning to Europe this month to perform in the Netherlands, Belgium and Paris. Stay tuned this week to find out more about the Quartet!

Formed in 1945 by four students from the Moscow Conservatory, the Borodin Quartet remains one of the very few existing established chamber ensembles with uninterrupted longevity. The Borodin Quartet is known for its close relationship with Shostakovich, who personally supervised its study of each of his quartets. Widely regarded as definitive interpretations, the Quartet’s cycles of the complete quartets have been performed all over the world. The idea of performing a complete cycle originated with the Borodin Quartet and the latest of three recording cycles was released on the Decca label in September 2018 to critical acclaim. Listen to the album here

In addition to performing quartets, the Borodin Quartet regularly joins forces with other distinguished musicians to further explore chamber music repertoire. Their partners have included Sviatoslav Richter, Michael Collins, Alexei Volodin, Barry Douglas, Mario Brunello, Elisabeth Leonskalja, Christoph Eschenbach, and Nikolai Lugansky. The Quartet joined forces with Vladimir Jurowski to perform the Martinů and Schulhoff concerti with the Staatskapelle Dresden and the LPO and “led the solo part … with precision and internal balance.” (Ingrid Gerk, Der Neuer Merker.) The Borodin Quartet also regularly receives invitations to give masterclasses and to serve as jury members.
Listen to the Borodin Quartet perform the Dvorák Piano Quintet with Alexei Volodin here.

The Borodin Quartet has a rich heritage of recordings over several decades. In addition to their Shostakovich cycle for Decca, they have also recorded for labels including EMI, RCA and Teldec.
Their recording catalogue spans a wide range including the Complete Beethoven quartets for CHANDOS and the Haydn String Quartets for Onyx, described as “remarkable for their consistency of tone and security of technique” by Gramophone and by The Strad “What I like most about the set is the way it makes Haydn’s invention leap off the page”. The Quartet’s first release on the Onyx label, featuring Borodin, Schubert, Webern and Rachmaninov was nominated for a Grammy in the ‘Best Chamber Performance’ category.
Listen to the album here.

For 80th anniversary seasons the Borodin Quartet look forward to a residency at Amsterdam Concertgebouw performing a complete Brahms and Tchaikovsky Quartet cycle and upcoming major tours to North America and China.
This week, the Borodin Quartet have brought a concert of Shostakovich, Borodin and Tchaikovsky to Muziekgebouw Eindhoven, Philharmonie Haarlem and Tivoli Vredenburg Utrecht, before returning to the Philharmonie de Paris String Quartet Biennale on Thursday 17 January.
Listen to the Borodin Quartet perform the Shostakovich String Quartet No.2 in A major here.

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