Magazine article Gramophone

Borodin * Dvorak * Tchaikovsky: Borodin String Quartet No 2

Magazine article Gramophone

Borodin * Dvorak * Tchaikovsky: Borodin String Quartet No 2

Article excerpt

Borodin * Dvorak * Tchaikovsky

Borodin String Quartet No 2 Dvorak String Quartet No 12, 'American', Op 96 B179

Tchaikovsky String Quartet No 1, Op 11

Escher Quartet

BIS (F) [SACD] BIS2280 (81' * DDD/DSD)

I didn't think they still made discs like this three of the best-loved Romantic string quartets, grouped together for no other reason, presumably, than that they're all popular. And, of course, that they're all masterpieces. Someone will always be discovering these works for the first time and there's no musical reason why they should ever feel any less fresh.

No worries on that score from the Escher Quartet. BIS has provided a recorded sound with just enough bloom to create an atmosphere, but sufficiently transparent that the inner parts are always lucid. And the Eschers have run with it 'run' being the operative word, because they approach this music as if it's newly minted. Their readings are clear, intelligent and bracingly energetic.

Indeed, it's tempting to talk about varnish being stripped away, and there's something undeniably satisfying about the rhythmic kick that viola player Pierre Lapointe gives to the opening melody of the American Quartet, or the crunch of horsehair on wood in Tchaikovsky's Scherzo. …

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