“The Moscow-based Borodin String Quartet not only marks its 60th anniversary this year; founding cellist Valentin Berlinsky notches his 80th birthday. His partners have changed over the decades, but the group retains a Russian, romantic sound familiar from recordings of Shostakovich and much else for virtually every major label. This set features idiomatic performances of Borodin’s complete Second Quartet and short encore pieces by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. The quartet backs the lushness of Webern’s ‘Langsamer Satz’ – the disc’s most transporting work – with sinew.”
New Jersey Star Ledger - 27 September 2005
Headline: “Sheer beauty of sound in this release” “Refined, breathed phrasing, flexibility of ensemble, tonal variety; all these qualities converge – along with years of accumulated experience and a grand sympathy for the works they perform – to make the Borodin D Major a precious moment of chamber music. The very opening of the Scherzo blew me away for the sheer beauty of sound.”
Audiophile Audition - 28 September 2005
"Still going strong, the Borodins remain at the forefront of the quartet circuit
One of my most abiding musical memories is of a series of three concerts at the Goldsmiths’ Hall where the Borodin Quartet played what was, at the time, the complete Shostakovich cycle, meaning Quartets Nos 1-11. Since then various personnel changes have included two involving the leader’s chair, first from Rostislav Dubinsky to Mikhail Kopelman (both excellent players), then in 1995/96 from Kopelman to the superb Rubén Aharonian.
The broad outline of the Borodin’s interpretative style has altered very little over the years: the earlier group maybe marginally more stylised than it later became (in the way that Rudolf Barshai’s Moscow Chamber Orchestra was stylised), Kopelman’s Quartet the most red-blooded, Aharonian reclaiming a certain refinement.
There can’t be many collectors of a certain age who haven’t at one time or another owned a Borodin Quartet version of their namesake’s Second Quartet, whether from the 1960s on Decca, Chandos or BBC Legends, or the later EMI coupling of both quartets (5/88 – nla). This new version of No 2 is very beautiful in its own way, rather more malleable than its predecessors (note the warmth of the inner voices in the Scherzo’s Trio), with Valentin Berlinsky’s cello at start of the celebrated Notturno a little thinner in tone than it had been. But then, 60 years’ service as the ‘bass-line’ of one of the world’s great ensembles is a pretty remarkable achievement and it’s something of a miracle that he’s still playing as well as he is.
The rest of the programme confirms favourable first impressions. Tchaikovsky’s Andante cantabile is played with subtle feeling and due respect for the score’s part-writing. Rachmaninov’s rarely heard but winningly lyrical Romance, an early piece and something of a Borodin Quartet speciality, recalls the ‘old’ world of Glazunov rather than anticipating the more sophisticated elements of Rachmaninov’s later style. Borodin’s Serenata alla spagnola opens to lusty, guitar-like pizzicato while Webern’s languorous Langsamer Satz has a beguiling warmth and amply demonstrates how, at their best, the Borodins have lost nothing in terms of opulence or sensual allure. And there’s Schubert, his Quartettsatz swaying suavely with agitated contrasts and some telling but never overdone rubato.
So, as one normally says on these occasions, here’s to the next 60 years and thanks to Onyx for a fine, nicely recorded tribute and to David Nice and Manashir Iakubov for excellent annotations."
Gramophone - September 2005
Record of the Month
Classic FM Magazine - August 2005