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CHAN 10178
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CHAN 10178

Beethoven: String Quartets, Volume 1

The Classical Shop
release date: November 2003

Originally recorded in 2003


Borodin Quartet


Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Moscow


Edward Shakhnazarian


Vitaly Ivanov

Record Label


String Quartet


Total Time - 72:47
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  String Quartets, Volume 1  

String Quartet, Op. 59 No. 1

  in F major - in F-Dur - en fa majeur  
  To Count Andreas Rasumovsky  
1 I Allegro 10:31
2 II Allegretto vivace e sempre scherzando 8:40
3 III Adagio molto e mesto 12:09
4 IV Allegro. Thème russe 8:34

String Quartet, Op. 59 No. 3

  in C major - in C-Dur - en ut majeur  
  To Count Andreas Rasumovsky  
5 I Introduzione. Andante con moto - Allegro vivace 10:58
6 II Andante con moto quasi allegretto 10:02
7 III Menuetto. Grazioso 5:23
8 IV Allegro molto 6:30
Ludwig van Beethoven
Germany, 1770-1827

Chandos is proud to present the first in its series of complete Beethoven String Quartets. The quartets, containing some the greatest, most enigmatic music ever written, are in the capable hands of one of the world’s finest ensembles.

The Borodin String Quartet was formed in 1945 in Moscow. Cellist Valentin Berlinsky has been with the quartet since its earliest days and violinist Andrei Abramenkov joined in 1974. Igor Naidin learnt the art of quartet playing from several of the Borodins including the Quartet’s violinist, Dmitri Shebalin, whom he eventually replaced. Leader Ruben Aharonian has won prizes at several international competitions, including the Enescu, Montréal and Tchaikovsky.

The Borodin Quartet celebrate their sixtieth anniversary season in 2004/5 with performances of the complete Beethoven quartet cycle at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna Musikverein and at the City of London Festival.

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’!

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

E Littler