06 April, 2010

Concert Review: Borodin String Quartet

Concert Review: Borodin String Quartet

March 24, 2010, Alice Tully Hall
Borodin String Quartet

I was very happy for the priviledge to hear one of my favorite quartets (two others would be the Artemis and the Shanghai), the Borodin Quartet, for the fourth time, and in Alice Tully Hall, which I have not visited after its re-opening.

The group has remained the same since death of the great Berlinsky. They still play with peerless unainimity and a golden blend ( see my review in 2008). The great surprise is that in the new Alice Tully Hall two aspects of their sound have changed: first, first violin Aharonian's tone is less white than before, still penetrating but without glare; second, the tone of cellist Balshin, previously smallish, has firmed up considerably. The balance is more generous. This could be due to change of the quartet's sound (not unusual) but could also at least partly be attributable to the much praised acoustics of the completely rebuilt new hall, which is a little larger than life, and warmish.

The program was surprisingly challenging. Neither the Brahms Second nor the Tchaikovsky Second are often encountered. Both were played perfectly, the thorny knots of the Brahms untying themselves with ease, and the Tchaikovsky scaled new heights of sophistication. In between came the early Rachmaninov's Romance from Two Movements for String Quartet.

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