Borodin Quartet (Moscow) Australian Tour Archive

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Good bye and Do svidaniya

The Adelaide Town Hall was full to capacity last night for the Borodin Quartet’s final concert of the Australian tour. The Quartet now heads off to New Zealand for Chamber Music New Zealand’s 60th anniversary season and the New Zealand International Arts Festival. Our audience response has been incredibly positive, with comments such as “Highly compelling… some of the highest quality playing one could ever hear.” We’d like to thank the quartet for such fantastic performances throughout the tour and wish them all the best for the rest of their anniversary season.

…and stay tuned for Musica Viva’s next tour, the Harp Consort, presenting the music of Turlough O’Carolan in May…

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 8:25 PM

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

“Pure Musical Virtues”

It must be odd, the life of a professional string quartet. The Borodins travelled from the depths of the Russian winter to the tail end of an Australian summer for their current tour. While many locals were glad of the cool change that greeted Sydney on the 1st of March, the Borodins were less keen to see the sun replaced by clouds, commenting on the efficiency of Australian weather and the immediate change from summer to Autumn. The Quartet did, however, manage to put their disappointment aside and deliver a stunning performance on Monday night. Sydney Morning Herald reviewer Peter McCallum writes “The Borodin Quartet’s inscrutable intonation and balance captured [Shostakovich’s] comic-tragic quality to perfection. Each phrase is shaped to bring out its musical essence, yet nothing is ever exaggerated and Shostakovich’s double-sided message emerges with beauty and unvarnished clarity… what one values about a masterly group like the Borodin Quartet is its focus on pure musical virtues – excellent phrasing, balance, careful listening and impeccable intonation.” Read the full review here.

Musica Viva’s audience is not shy of expressing their own opinions either, and we’ve had some great entries in our So You Think You Can Write Competition. Adelaide concert-goers still have the chance to enter. Simply email your review within 48 hours of the concert to The five best entries (both positive and negative reviews can be winners) will receive a double pass to the second concert in Musica Viva’s season – The Harp Consort. The winner will also receive a 8CD set ABC Classic 100 Chamber Music valued at $89.95.

Speaking of the ABC, Emma Ayres of Classic Breakfast has done a great interview with Igor Naidin of the Borodin Quartet as part of her Gracenotes podcast series. Check it out here.

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 5:52 PM 0 comments

Monday, March 1, 2010

Borodin tour nears end

The Borodin Quartet’s tour is fast drawing to a close with a string of successful concerts to wrap up the tour.

The Brisbane concert brought out the who’s-who of Brisbane concert goers. One of our annotations writers, Angela Turner, commented she couldn’t remember the last time she had seen so many musicians at a concert, and was impressed with the number of students attending as well. Many in the Newcastle audience remembered the Quartet’s previous line-up and were eager to discuss the Borodin’s history, and while the Quartet was happy to indulge in these memories, they were even happier to indulge in the pavlova served at the post-concert supper!

Our new matinee series in Sydney on Saturday got off to a great start. Musica Viva’s CEO Mary Jo Capps commented she had never seen such an attentive, wide-awake audience with “literally not one cough throughout the first half of the concert!” The Sydney branch of the Amadeus society had its first performance on Sunday. The Borodin’s performance of Haydn and Shostakovich again captivated an intimate assembly of music lovers and Musica Viva supporters.

And finally, a full house at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place, last night enjoyed not only a brilliant concert but an entertaining and insightful post-concert discussion with group members afterwards. When one audience member asked about the instruments the Quartet perform on, Igor Naidin very helpfully explained that the quartet uses two violins, a viola and cello. “They’re Russian, you’ll have to be more specific!” quipped host Carl Vine, before the ensemble went on to explain the make and history of each instrument.

Today the Quartet heads off to Adelaide for the final concert of the tour tomorrow night. The Adelaide Town Hall is sold out and this promises to be a very special concert indeed.

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 3:29 PM

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Borodin Quartet is like Musica Viva…

Stopping by the Musica Viva Sydney office today, the Borodin Quartet commented on the similarities between our organisation and their Quartet. Each celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, and while the personnel may have changed over the years, the vision has remained the same.

Tomorrow sees the launch of the new Matinee series in Sydney. The Borodin Quartet will perform Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Brahms at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place at 1.30pm.

For those wishing to further immerse themselves in the world of the Borodin Quartet there are plenty of resources out there. You can start with the Quartet’s own web page, or their Facebook page. In addition to Musica Viva’s own Concert Insights page, the Perth International Arts Festival also has free educational resources available for the Borodin Quartet. You can listen to the Borodins performing Tchaikovsky on The Music Show, and read more about the Quartet in The West Australian.

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 9:46 PM

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Borodins appeal to a wide audience

Musica Viva audiences are in fact very broad. Our concerts are well received by people of all ages, in some cases even primary school students. Last week’s Canberra concert was remarkable in the number of young audience members, some wearing pyjamas under their clothes or even clutching a teddy bear. The Borodin Quartet was impressed with the number of young faces and even remarked that it was one of the “best behaved” audiences they’d ever performed to.

Students are also very important to Musica Viva, and as well as special YouthTix at $15 for full time students, many of our musicians give masterclasses at tertiary institutions around the country. This morning Igor Naidin and Vladimir Balshin gave a masterclass to four young musicians from the Queensland Conservatorium. While the Borodins are revered for their interpretations of the Russian classics, their range of repertoire is in fact very broad and so we have no doubt that, while the young quartet performed Haydn and Debussy rather than Shostakovich, this was a very special opportunity indeed.

Things are gearing up for tonight’s concert in Brisbane. All seats have been sold and Student Rush Standing Room has been created with only 12 places available. Tonight’s concert features Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Brahms.

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 7:27 PM

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Continued success for the Borodin Quartet

The Borodin Quartet is now almost halfway through their tour and we’re thrilled with the success of the tour so far! After another successful concert in Melbourne on Saturday the positive reviews keep coming. Anna McAlister wrote in the Herald Sun:

“The concert opened with Shostakovich’s 4th [string quartet], emotionally a less gruelling work than some of his other quartets. The Borodins responded to its qualities of foreboding and suppressed pain. A guarded, held-back tempo infused the third movement with a whiff of irony. Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 13 expresses utter despair. In the Borodin’s reading, the opening viola and violin were subdued, then sank into desolation. The sunnier Quartet No. 2 by Alexander Borodin made a welcome contrast… the sublime Nocturne movement… had some glorious solo moments from each player…”

Tonight the Borodin Quartet perform in Perth and will be involved in a post-concert Question and Answer session hosted by Robyn Johnston immediately following the concert.

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 7:53 PM

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It’s not just us

It might be tempting to assume that we’re just talking up the brilliance of the Borodin Quartet but the first of the Australian reviews are in and the critics agree:

“…there was a steady focus on sound quality and luxurious tone, thanks to outstanding bow control: even contact, perfect weighting, precise placement, and effective bow-speed changes. This technique gives the sound depth and conviction, allowing vibrato to serve its true purpose as an expressive tool… there was no doubting the lively musical intellect at work, the attention to detail, and that magical depth of sound quality that so few ensembles currently possess.”
Eamonn Kelly, The Australian. Read the full review here.

“The Borodin Quartet displayed masterful control. Their selfless style of playing really brought out the core of this piece. I felt that I was hearing confessional poetry reading rather than music. When the explosive climax is hinted at by the three-note motif, I sensed the composer’s suppressed inner cries… The Borodin Quartet showed their artistic excellence with assured playing especially during the quick third movement imparting a thrilling, tightrope walking feel.”
Minako Kanda, Arts Hub. Read the full review here.

Of course you can always let us know your own opinions – enter our So You Think You Can Write? competition, post your comments here or send us your feedback via email.

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 8:23 PM

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More than just concerts

Musicians do more than just perform concerts when touring for Musica Viva. We like to engage with our audiences and the community wherever possible.

The Borodin Quartet will be involved in post-concert Question and Answer sessions in the following cities:

Melbourne, Saturday 20 February, hosted by Stephen Snelleman
Perth, Monday 22 February, hosted by Robyn Johnston
Sydney, Monday 1 March, hosted by Carl Vine
Adelaide, Wednesday 3 March, hosted by Carl Vine

Masterclasses are an important part of Musica Viva activity and a student quartet from the Queensland Conservatorium, comprised of Caroline Hopson, Glenn Christensen, Susanna Ling and Dale Rickert, will participate in a closed masterclass with two members of the Borodin Quartet on Wednesday 24 February.

If, by chance, you are unable to attend a Borodin Quartet concert, or if you’d simply like to hear them again, there will be a live broadcast on ABC Classic FM on Saturday 20 February at 8pm. Listen on the radio or online – the broadcast will also be available for on demand web streaming for a limited time after the concert.

The Quartet will be signing CDs after concerts in the following cities:

Canberra, Thursday 18 February
Brisbane, Wednesday 24 February
Sydney, Saturday 27 February

And don’t forget about the Concert Insights page on our website to complete your concert experience!

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 9:46 PM

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Success in Melbourne

A full house in Melbourne last night was spellbound by the Borodin Quartet’s performance at the Melbourne Recital Centre. The two Shostakovich works were by turn graceful, ironic and fiery while Borodin’s String Quartet no 2 was performed with a contrasting warmth and lyricism. A rapturous audience was treated to an encore by Tchaikovsky, with the Quartet having to make three further curtain calls to satisfy the crowd.

Today the Quartet moved on to Canberra where they will perform tomorrow night. The Quartet is in Australia for another two weeks with concerts still to come in Perth, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney and Adelaide as well as another concert in Melbourne. Tickets are selling fast so get in quick – see for a list of ticket agencies in your city.

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 9:54 PM

Monday, February 15, 2010

Amadeus launched in Melbourne

On Sunday 14 February, 25 Musica Viva supporters were honoured to hear an intimate performance by the Borodin Quartet at the residence of Julian Burnside AO QC, chair of Melbourne’s new Amadeus Society. The Quartet’s programming was intelligent as always – Haydn’s ‘Russian’ Quartet op 33 no 6 paired with Shostakovich’s dedication to the victims of facism and war, his String Quartet no 8.

The Amadeus Society is a group of esteemed individuals who have joined together to support extraordinary artistic initiatives of Musica Viva Australia. The Society takes its name from the Amadeus Quartet – revered for its meticulous preparation, flawless execution and breathtaking musical vision. Just as the music created by this quartet was a gift to chamber music audiences of the world, the Amadeus Society exists to make an invaluable gift to the musical life of Australia. Members’ donations ensure that the world’s foremost musicians, such as the Borodin Quartet, can continue to tour Australia.

Melbourne audiences will have the chance to see the Borodin Quartet in public recitals tonight, Tuesday 16 February, and Saturday 20 February at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Tonight’s concert includes Shostokovich’s 4th and 11th String Quartets, works in which the Borodins are regarded as an authority. To read more about the Quartet’s approach to performing Shostakovich see Robin Usher’s article in The Age:

If you, too, would like to share your opinion of the Borodin Quartet’s performance, don’t forget about Musica Viva’s “So You Think You Can Write?” competition. To submit a review all you need to do is attend the Borodin String Quartet concert in your respective city, then within 48 hours email to submit your piece. The five best entries (both positive and negative reviews can be winners!) will receive a double pass to the second concert in Musica Viva’s season – The Harp Consort. The winner will also receive a 8CD set ABC Classic 100 Chamber Music valued at $89.95. Reviews will be posted online. Happy writing!

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 3:46 PM

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Success in Bathurst

The Borodin Quartet began their Australian tour with a concert in Bathurst on Friday 12 February, opening the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre’s 2010 concert season. A large, appreciative audience very much enjoyed the program of works by Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Brahms and the Quartet was pleased to be able to commence their tour in one of Australia’s regional centres, despite sharing billing with the Bathurst 12 Hour motor race!

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 7:04 PM

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Borodin Quartet is Bathurst Bound

In what must surely be the musical coup of the year, the Borodin Quartet are beginning their Australian tour with a concert in Bathurst! In association with Musica Viva’s CountryWide program, the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre presents the Quartet in a special performance tonight at 8pm. Despite a mix up at check in which left the Quartet waiting outside an empty, unattended hotel for half an hour, we know tonight’s performance will be stunning.

Sunday sees a special event of a different kind – the launch of the Amadeus Society in Melbourne. Members of this circle of supporters and music lovers pay a yearly contribution in order to support special artistic initiatives of Musica Viva. The Borodin Quartet will perform an intimate recital for the Amadeus Society of works not included in their national tour programs, including Shostakovich’s profound String Quartet no 8. This guarantees to be an electrifying performance judging by the reviews of their recent London performances.

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 9:23 PM

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What makes the Borodin Quartet so special?

The Borodin Quartet’s history is well known – founded in 1945 by four students from the Moscow Conservatoire, their remarkable history includes working with Dmitri Shostakovich on every one of his quartets, and performing on the same day at the funerals of both Stalin and Prokofiev.

According to Musica Viva’s Artistic Director, Carl Vine, although no current members were present at the Borodin Quartet’s birth, the group carries with it a staggering weight of musical and social history. Each member of the quartet is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatoire, even learning from the same small branch of teachers. Violinist Ruben Aharonian explains, “if you listen to the same work played by the Borodin Quartet as compared to any other quartet, European or American, you feel immediately – not because the Borodins play better – but you feel the difference in sound, in phrasing. The Borodins have their own way of playing, their own musical vision, their own interpretation.” Igor Naidin, viola, agrees. “The Borodin Quartet definitely belongs to this famous Russian school of string-playing. It’s the way of performing.”

The repertoire of the great Russian composers, such as Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Borodin and Tchaikovsky, has become the hallmark of the Borodin Quartet. Traditions and knowledge, such as that imparted by the early members’ work with Shostakovich, are accumulated and passed on. As each member arrives in the group, they study the traditions of the previous members.

Audiences and critics alike seem to pick up on this continuity. The Telegraph’s Ivan Hewitt writes “cultural memory is a tenacious thing. Sitting in the Wigmore Hall, listening to the Quartet play Shostakovich’s First and Eighth Quartets, it was impossible to resist an uncanny sense of being taken back to the root of something. You could say this was just the magic effect of a near-mythical reputation, but there is something special in the Borodin Quartet’s sound which would persuade even an innocent listener. It’s the refusal to exaggerate, and a pearly, immaculate quality in the balance of the four parts.” Geoff Brown, of the Times, concurs. “The group’s tonal characteristics continue. There’s that precious ensemble sense and the clarity and subtlety of textures, shadings and phrasings.”

This is not to say their performances are static or unchanging. According to Carl Vine, the group’s interpretations continue to develop and evolve, propelling the ensemble to the peak of the world’s finest. Naidin claims that tradition and rejuvenation should always be well balanced. In revisiting a work the quartet will draw on prior knowledge and memories of past performances, but if something does not feel right they are not averse to refreshing those ideas.

Whatever one’s opinion of the Borodin Quartet’s history, the quality of the group’s current line up seems undisputed. Andrew Stewart in Classical Music Magazine wrote recently of the group’s “special qualities, the finely judged balance of precision and spontaneity, the searching artistry of an ensemble implacably opposed to the routine and superficial. They stand for music making for adults, totally serious in intent and free of gimmickry.” Indeed, the group is renowned for its total engagement with the music and complete lack of vanity in their playing. Geoff Brown claims “the most compelling attributes of the Borodin Quartet are their homogeneity as an ensemble and their pure, gimmick-free playing,” while Agnes Kory comments on their “admirable ensemble work.”

Musical qualities and characteristics can be difficult to put into words. Perhaps Andrew Stewart sums it up well. “The group’s technical precision and tonal warmth, the rigour and depth of its interpretations, and the near telepathic communication skills speak volumes about its artistic pedigree.”

Check out Musica Viva’s website for Borodin Quartet concert dates, ticket information and our new Concert Insights page featuring Online Concert Talks, free Concert Guides and more!

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 7:26 PM

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Borodin Quartet has landed

Arriving in Sydney Airport last night the Borodin Quartet said they were glad to be back in Australia and that it feels like they never left. Prior to the tour the Quartet’s violist, Igor Naidin, told us that Australian audiences are among “the best, most welcoming and outstanding audiences. This tour will be the highlight of 2010 for us, definitely. We only wish that the quartet would appear more often in Australia.” The Quartet is looking forward to the warm Australian weather and is now resting before beginning their 10 concert tour.

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 5:09 PM

Monday, February 8, 2010

Edward Seckerson, “Borodin Quartet, Wigmore Hall”, The Independent (Online), UK

“The Borodin Quartet brings a lot of history to the table – 60 years, to be precise. Personnel may come and go, the balance of personalities may shift, but the identity remains resolutely intact.

Perceptions have changed immeasurably since the unforgettable candelight vigil of the last Shostakovich quartet in their legendary London cycle of the 1980s – none of those players are still with us – but this composer is still their collective signature and they play him with a very particular authority, as if the hotline to his every thought it still very much open.”

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 6:10 PM

Borodin Quartet arrives Sydney 9 February 2010

The Borodin Quartet arrives from Moscow in Sydney tonight (!) They are in Australia for the next three weeks performing in the capital cities. Watch out for media interviews over the next couple of days and concerts starting from this Friday.

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 5:59 PM 0 comments

Borodin Quartet

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 5:11 PM


You have to be deeply in love with the string quartet as a form in order to live the life of a string quartet.

Igor Naidin, viola

Ruben Aharonian, violin
Andrei Abramenkov, violin
Igor Naidin, viola
Vladimir Balshin, cello

The Borodin Quartet considers the string quartet the most beautiful way to make music. Throughout the group’s illustrious career its unique identity has been closely linked with the so-called ‘Russian school’ of string playing. All of the group’s members studied at the Moscow Conservatory, absorbing this method as it evolved across the generations.

Formed in 1945, the Quartet’s remarkable history includes working with Dmitri Shostakovich on every one of his quartets, and performing on the same day at the funerals of both Stalin and Prokofiev.

Posted by Musica Viva Australia at 5:09 PM

Borodin String Quartet no 2 in D major (1881) from Musica Viva Online Video Talks on Vimeo.


About Musica Viva Australia

Welcome to Musica Viva’s International Concert Season blog. Here you can follow and read more about our wonderful touring artists.

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