Borodin Quartet

FRANK CLIFF John Innes Centre, Norwich


John Innes Centre, Norwich

Norfolk and Norwich Chamber Music, together with UEA, have achieved a remarkable coup in engaging the Borodin Quartet for a complete cycle of Shostakovich's quartets in this the centenary year of his birth.

Shostakovich came fairly late to the quartet form using it to express his most personal feelings in works which make frequent emotional demands on the listener.

Such is the second quartet which began yesterday's recital: a large-scale work written in 1944 when a Russian victory seemed imminent, though it is the pity of war that concerns Shosta-kovich, especially in the violin recita-tive in the slow movement brilliantly played by leader Ruben Aharomian.

The first quartet is less taxing: deceptively simply maybe but a perfect foil to Number Two.

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The third quartet, another large-scale work in five movements, is the most intense of these first three, its core the tragic fourth movement. Moving to see the octogenarian cellist Berlinsky a little more frail perhaps but still on form; a living legacy to the quartet's close collaboration with the composer.

One expects highest technical perfec-tion from the Borodin but their playing seemed to be in their very bones.

A splendid beginning to what promises to be a richly rewarding musical experience.