Brahms: String Quartet No. 1 in C minor; String Quartet No. 3 in B flat

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: String Quartet No. 1 in C minor; String Quartet No. 3 in B flat
PERFORMER: Borodin Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-90889-2 DDD
The Borodin Quartet come to these central works of the repertoire with the advantage of many years of experience, and it shows in the intensity and expressive flexibility they bring to bear on the music. Their account of the dramatic opening movement and the slow movement has all the warmth and affection one could wish for. The Borodins’ lingering approach is, however, much less suited to the almost skittish style of No. 3’s first movement, which needs considerably more buoyancy and energy.

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Energy is provided in abundance by the Sine Nomine Quartet. These young players from Switzerland are a real discovery. If they cannot quite match the Romantic fervour of their more seasoned Russian colleagues, their playing is astonishingly mature and assured. It is possible to feel that the eagerness with which they attack the opening movement of No. 1 leaves little in reserve for its more agitated coda, and it is unfortunate that the final passage of No. 2 threatens to degenerate into a scramble (Brahms’s marking here doesn’t imply a presto tempo). But for the rest, these are superbly thought-out performances which can more than hold their own with the best currently available.