Performance Friday, October 10, 2014 | 7:30 PM

Borromeo String Quartet

Weill Recital Hall
During the Borromeo String Quartet’s recent Bartók marathon, The Philadelphia Inquirer said that the musicians “performed at a high standard that brought you so deeply into the music’s inner workings that you wondered if your brain could take it all in.” Bartók is on the bill at Carnegie Hall, as well as Shostakovich and Britten. Shostakovich’s enigmatic String Quartet No. 3 shifts between high spirits and the darkly serious. Britten’s String Quartet No. 2, written to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Henry Purcell, closes with a brilliant set of variations.

Part of Salon Encores.


  • Borromeo String Quartet
    ·· Nicholas Kitchen, Violin
    ·· Kristopher Tong, Violin
    ·· Mai Motobuchi, Viola
    ·· Yeesun Kim, Cello


  • SHOSTAKOVICH String Quartet No. 3 in F Major
  • BARTÓK String Quartet No. 6
  • BRITTEN String Quartet No. 2 in C Major


Schostakovich's String Quartet No. 3 in F Major, Op. 73 (Allegretto)
Juilliard String Quartet

At a Glance

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH  String Quartet No. 3 in F Major, Op. 73

Few composers have been as rudely buffeted by the winds of political fortune as Shostakovich. From the time his music first incurred official censure for its bourgeois “formalism” in the early 1930s, the highly strung composer played an elaborate game of feint and attack with the Soviet regime, cannily balancing his more abrasive, cutting-edge music with a stream of reassuringly patriotic and artistically conservative works. Written shortly after World War II, the Third Quartet is fundamentally tonal, but laced with the pungently dissonant harmonies and raw kinetic energy that are the composer’s hallmarks.

BÉLA BARTÓK  String Quartet No. 6

Composed in Switzerland and Hungary just before and after the outbreak of World War II, the last of Bartók’s six quartets is very much a work of its time. The prevailing mood is conveyed by the Italian word that the composer attached to each of the four movements: mesto, or “sad.” The quartet’s ritornello form, based on a recurring melody first played by the solo viola, marked a departure from the symmetrical “arch” construction of Bartók’s Fourth and Fifth quartets.

BENJAMIN BRITTEN  String Quartet No. 2 in C Major, Op. 36

Britten was intermittently drawn to the string quartet over the course of his career. Not counting a student work (composed in 1931 and belatedly published in the mid-1970s), he wrote three quartets—two in the early 1940s and the last in 1975. An homage to Henry Purcell, the Second Quartet of 1945 followed close on the heels of Britten’s opera Peter Grimes, in which he had aimed to “restore to the musical setting of the English language a brilliance, freedom, and vitality that have been curiously rare since the death of Purcell.”


This performance is part of Quartets Plus.

Part of

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