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Cat. No. CHAN 10178 Price: £8 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10178 - Beethoven: String Quartets, Volume 1
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Available From: 14 November 2003
Beethoven turned to the challenging genre of the string quartet when he was twenty-seven, and created the last chapters of his astonishing cycle some twenty-eight years later, shortly before his death. The Borodin Quartet’s record-breaking career spans twice the length of time, and yet it has only recently realised what Berlinsky – the one remaining original member of the Quartet, and its benign patriarch – calls ‘the great dream of my life: to play all Beethoven’s quartets from first to last’.

In the beginning, there was little time for so vast and serious a project. There were personnel changes affecting the stability of the quartet, and the commitment to the contemporary repertoire, Soviet or otherwise, which led to the recommendation of the Borodin’s friend and supporter, Shostakovich, that they should discover the entire Haydn cycle before embarking on yet another new work. It was when Ruben Aharonian and Igor Naidin joined that the cellist’s dream began to take shape, but the music demanded slow and intense study for, as Aharonian says: ‘each [of the quartets] has a universe of its own’. There were technical difficulties, as Aharonian, a renowned Beethoven violinist in his own right, explained: ‘…the part of the first violin in Beethoven, especially in the middle-period Rasumovsky quartets, and the late quartets, is superior to anything demanded by any trio or concerto…’

Berlinsky achieves his lifetime’s ambition as Borodin Quartet approaches its sixtieth anniversary and corresponding celebratory concert series. When Berlinsky was asked which was his favourite Beethoven quartet, his response was characteristically wry: ‘the one on the music stand before me’!
Reviews

These Borodin accounts are distinguished by their feeling of spontaneity; the continual small rubati and emphases may be worked out in advance but sound like spur-of-the-moment inflections as each player lives the music. Another overall impression is one of tonal beauty, with a near-perfect blend of sound.
...what a relief to encounter the Borodin Quartet at the height of its powers, playing with a security of intonation and execution that for once allows the listener to Gramophone

'what a relief to encounter the Borodin Quartet at the height of its powers, playing with a security of intonation and execution that for once allows the listener to concentrate on this awesome music without any undue distractions.
The Strad

 

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