Borodin String Quartets Nos 1 & 2


Haydn Quartet, Budapest
Naxos 8.550850

One of Borodin’s most neglected masterpieces, the First String Quartet, is coupled with his better known Second, famous for its soulful Notturno third movement.

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Borodin Symphonies Nos 1-3

Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz
Naxos 8.572786

This new recording of the symphonies, including the incomplete Third, does full justice to these engaging and hauntingly inspired works. Borodin's Second is unquestionably one of the great Russian symphonies, and the First has a wonderfully engaging sense of drama and swagger that owes something to Schumann and Mendelssohn.

Borodin Prince Igor

Ivan Petrov, Tatyana Tugarinova etc; Bolshoi Theatre Chorus & Orchestra/Mark Ermler
Melodiya MELCD 1000413

Borodin, like his fellow ‘Mighty handful’ members Rimsky-Korsakov, Musorgsky and Balakirev, was interested in creating a distinctively Russian classical music that set itself apart from the Western European tradition. As such, creating an opera from an ancient Russian epic (The Lay of Igor's Host) was a natural choice.

Prince Igor follows the ancient prince Igor Svyatoslavich in his campaign against the invading Polovtsian tribes in 1185.

Unfinished upon the composer's death in 1887, Prince Igor was edited and completed by Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov.

Borodin uses musical styles and motifs to distinguish the Russians from their opponents in the story: so the Russians are depicted by features from Russian folk music, while the Polovstians - from Central Asia - are depicted using chromaticism, melismas, appoggiaturas and other techniques. The much-loved Polovtsian Dances are taken from the opera.

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Borodin Complete Piano Music

Marco Rapetti (piano)
Brilliant 93894

A fascinating collection, which ranges from Borodin’s earliest piece of juvenilia, a Polka composed aged nine, to one of his last completed works, the Petite Suite.

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Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.