meet the quartet

The Borodin Quartet commands a special position of respect in the chamber music world. In existence for more than 60 years, it has preserved a unique performance tradition, focusing on the masterpieces at the very heart of the quartet repertoire. Its interpretations are celebrated for their intensity and focus, a style in which individualism dedicates itself to the collaborative spirit of chamber music and total service of the composer’s wishes.

The Borodin Quartet’s particular affinity with Russian repertoire was stimulated by a close relationship with Shostakovich, who personally supervised its study of each of his quartets. Widely regarded as definitive interpretations, the Quartet’s cycles of the complete Shostakovich quartets have been performed all over the world, including Vienna, Zurich, Frankfurt, Madrid, Lisbon, Seville, London, Paris and New York. In recent seasons the ensemble has performed a broad repertoire, including works by Beethoven, Schubert, Prokofiev, Borodin and Tchaikovsky, while continuing to be welcomed and acclaimed at major venues throughout the world.

The Borodin Quartet was formed in 1945 by four students from the Moscow Conservatory. Ten years later, it changed its name from the Moscow Philharmonic Quartet to the Borodin Quartet. The current formation is Andrei Abramenkov, Ruben Aharonian, Igor Naidin and Vladimir Balshin: Andrei Abramenkov became a member in 1974; Ruben Aharonian and Igor Naidin joined in 1996; Vladimir Balshin joined the Quartet in August 2007. Valentin Berlinsky, one of the long lasting members, retired from the Quartet in the summer of 2007. He passed away on Monday 15 December 2008.

In addition to performing quartets, the members of the Borodin Quartet regularly join forces with other distinguished musicians to further explore the chamber music repertoire. Their partners have included Dmitri Shostakovich, Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yuri Bashmet, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Natalia Gutman, Elisso Virsaladze and Christoph Eschenbach. The Quartet also regularly give masterclasses.

For its 60th Anniversary Season, the Borodin Quartet performed cycles of the complete Beethoven quartets at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Vienna Musikverein. Gala concerts honouring the Quartet’s contribution to musical history were performed in Moscow (January 2005) and at London’s Wigmore Hall and the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris (May 2005). The ensemble also gave recitals in Madrid, Rotterdam, Brussels, Geneva, Munich, Lisbon, Barcelona, Athens, Cologne, Istanbul, Zurich, Berlin, Moscow, New York and London, playing the music of Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Shostakovich – and of course Borodin.

The CD label Chandos recorded and released the complete Beethoven quartets as part of the 60th anniversary celebration. The Quartet’s first release on the Onyx label, featuring Borodin, Schubert, Webern and Rachmaninov, was nominated for a Grammy in the 2005 Best Chamber Performance category. The Borodin Quartet has produced a rich heritage of recordings over several decades, for labels including EMI, Virgin Classics, RCA and Teldec. Among its Teldec recordings, those of Tchaikovsky’s quartets and Souvenir de Florence, Schubert’s String Quintet, Haydn’s Seven Last Words and a disc of Russian Miniatures all received acclaim. The Tchaikovsky disc was honoured with a Gramophone Award in 1994.