Preview: Borodin Quartet, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
From Moscow with freshness and warmth
Tuesday 11 March 2008
What does it take to be married to a member of a globetrotting string quartet? The Moscow-based Borodin Quartet – only two of whom are married – draw a useful historical analogy. Their spouses must be like the wives of the surviving Decembrist revolutionaries who escaped the Tsar's gallows in 1825: when the men were banished for life to Siberia, their wives either went with them, or waited decades at home.
So says violist Igor Naidin (unmarried), for whom membership of this élite ensemble was always the summit of his ambition. The original Borodins were the quartet of choice for Shostakovich and Britten: while cultural life withered under Stalin, they were among select keepers of the flame, and have remained so ever since. Naidin, who was born in 1969, has been playing in the Borodin tradition since he was 15 years old. "For me, they were always the ideal quartet," he says. "Real heroes."
The challenge, he says, is to pass on the quartet's musical DNA, "though Valentin Berlinsky, the original cellist, used to describe it as the quartet 'virus' – an intense and irresistible desire to play only quartet music. Whatever is going on in your life, it does not interfere with this obsession. All you want to do is play."
What does he regard as their USP? "We know we have one, but we can never put it into words." Would he recognise the Borodin's sound blind? "Ninety-nine per cent of the time, I would recognise it instantly. Each player has his own voice, and his own unique instrument. And then there is the unique voice of the whole group. Beautiful, very powerful, but not over loud, and not remotely harsh." Seductive? "No, tender. But now I'm part of it, I can't describe it further. I have internalised it. I don't have the joy of listening any more."
Listening to their superb Beethoven cycle on Chandos, I'm struck by the incisive freshness and warmth of their playing. Audiences on their national tour, for which they will play Haydn, Shostakovich, Miaskovsky and Beethoven, can make up their own minds.
Tonight (0151-709 3789)
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins gives rare glimpse of sensitive side with heartfelt open letter to her children penned in case she dies from epilepsy
- 2 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Penny Dreadful, series 2 episode 1, review: It is still gloriously silly
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
Eurovision 2015: What date and time is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
How the Other Half Eat, Channel 4 - TV review: Swapping food trolleys shows how food and class are closely connected
Indiana Jones sequel confirmed by Lucasfilm - but will Harrison Ford return to the franchise?
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP