Borodins Produce Chamber Music Performance of Year

Article excerpt

Byline: Thomas Hall

Borodin Quartet, Hall One, The Sage Gateshead OF The Sage Gateshead's two main halls, the second is by far the best suited to a string quartet.

But it was the ill-fortune of the Borodins that got us there as, poorly served by low audience turnout, one of the world's longest standing and greatest quartets was relocated from the 1700-seat Hall One to the more intimate Hall Two.

That made for a capacity audience of around 400, there to hang onto every note, beginning with Haydn's 'The Lark' in D. It was Haydn who took the quartet beyond simple melody and accompaniment, sharing themes among the instruments, he paved the way for his younger contemporary, Beethoven, who eventually raised it to the sublime.

But while Beethoven's fourth, Quartet op.18 in C minor, would have been recognizably classical to Haydn.

The Borodin balanced this against the work's darker, more romantic impulses, bridging the gap between the buoyant optimism of Haydn to the tougher world of Shostakovich's 20th century.

Like Shostakovich, his older contemporary Nikolay Myaskovsky was also denounced by the Soviet authorities for what was regarded as too progressive an approach - though how this could have applied to his final quartet, no. …