The Borodin Quartet is now well into its seventh decade, the latest replenishment in its ranks being cellist Vladimir Balshin, whose first recording is this trio of distinctively Russian pieces by Borodin, Stravinsky and Myaskovsky.
Stravinsky's "Concertino for Four Strings" is a rare chamber piece, brief and typically testing, but the standout piece here is Borodin's "String Quartet No 1", which shifts from a lyrical, meditative opening motif to take in references to influences as disparate as Russian folksong and Beethoven's "String Quartet No 13": the scherzo, with its blend of agitated, feathery bow-work and stalking pizzicato, is especially impressive. Sadly, Myaskovsky's "String Quartet No 13" is by comparison dull and pedestrian, suggesting why this prolific apparatchik (27 symphonies!) was overshadowed by contempraries such as Prokofiev and Shostakovich.
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