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Borodin Quartet - Beethoven: String Quartets No. 1-6, Op. 18 (2003)

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Borodin Quartet - Beethoven: String Quartets No. 1-6, Op. 18 (2003)

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Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 18, No. 1
I. Allegro con brio
II. Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato
III. Scherzo: Allegro molto - Trio
IV. Allegro

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 2 in G major, Op. 18, No. 2
I. Allegro
II. Adagio cantabile - Allegro - Tempo I
III. Scherzo: Allegro - Trio
IV. Allgro molto, quasi presto

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 18, No. 3
I. Allegro
II. Andante con moto
III. Allegro - Minore - Maggiore
IV. Presto


Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 4 in C minor, Op. 18, No. 4
I. Allegro ma non tanto
II. Scherzo: Andante scherzoso quasi allegretto
III. Menuetto: Allegretto - Trio
IV. Allegro – Prestissimo

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 5 in A major, Op. 18, No. 5
I. Allegro
II. Menuetto - Trio
III. Theme and Variations
IV. Allegro

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 6 in B flat major, Op. 18, No. 6
I. Allegro con brio
II. Adagio ma non troppo
III. Scherzo: Allegro - Trio
IV. La Maliconia: Adagio - Allegretto quasi allegro – Prestissimo

Rostislav Dubinsky – violin  
Yaroslav Alexandrov – violin  
Dmitry Shebalin – viola	
Valentin Berlinsky – cello


This latest release in Chandos' Historical series features the Borodin Quartet in a benchmark performance of Beethoven's Op. 18 String Quartets. Renowned for their tonal refinement and unanimity of ensemble playing, the Quartet achieved legendary status. This archive recording has been freshly remastered to Chandos' usual, uncompromising standards and is available at mid-price. ---arkivmusic.com


In the Op. 18 Quartets, Beethoven appears to be at a stylistic crossroads, bowing with reverence to the traditions of Haydn and Mozart on the one hand while at the same time forging ahead with a more exploratory idiom that anticipates his middle period. To attain an ideal balance between these aspects is problematic, and I am not at all convinced that the Borodin Quartet have managed this in their latest recording. The overriding problem seems to be a lack of charm and joie de vivre in the more graceful sections of the music, the dour approach of the Borodins tending to make the music seem surprisingly limited in its emotional range. Even the sturm und drang of the first movement of the C minor Quartet seems hard-driven rather than passionate and urgent, and the ensuing slow movement lacks the humour and elegance suggested by Beethoven’s marking of Andante scherzoso. Elsewhere, there are moments of rhythmic instability, particularly in the Finales of the F major and G major, and the occasional lack of clarity in articulation that is somewhat uncharacteristic of a quartet with the pedigree of the Borodins. Indeed, one may well ask why Chandos bothered to release this set, given that they issued an historic recording of the Borodins playing the same works only a couple of years ago. Direct comparison between the two versions reveals that despite the immeasurably superior engineering of the present release, the Borodin’s earlier performances are simply irresistible and convey much of the energy and enthusiasm that is sadly missing here. ---Erik Levi, classical-music.com

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