Performance Friday, December 2, 2011 | 7:30 PM

Borromeo String Quartet

Weill Recital Hall
“It’s preposterous how good they are,” hails The Boston Phoenix. The Borromeo String Quartet makes a welcome return to Carnegie Hall, playing Schoenberg’s intense First String Quartet and Schubert’s powerfully foreboding String Quartet in D Minor, “Death and the Maiden.”


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


  • SCHOENBERG String Quartet No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 7
  • SCHUBERT String Quartet in D Minor, D. 810, "Death and the Maiden"


  • Borromeo String Quartet

    Nicholas Kitchen, Violin
    Kristopher Tong, Violin
    Mai Motobuchi, Viola
    Yeesun Kim, Cello

    Since making its acclaimed debut in 1989, the Borromeo String Quartet has become one of the most sought-after quartets in the world. Audiences and critics alike champion the quartet’s exceptional ability to bring contemporary fire to often-heard works from the classical repertoire, while making challenging new music approachable and enlightening.

    The Borromeo String Quartet has redefined the classical music landscape through the innovative use of MacBook Pro laptops, video projection, and iPads in performance. The quartet collaborates extensively with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Library of Congress, and can be heard throughout the year on National Public Radio and Public Radio International. It was the ensemble-in-residence for NPR’s Performance Today in 1998 and 1999, has had a longstanding residency at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and performs an ongoing series at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York City.

    The Borromeo has collaborated with artists that include Angélique Kidjo and Branford Marsalis; violinist Midori; pianists Christoph Eschenbach, Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman, Menahem Pressler, and Peter Serkin; sopranos Dawn Upshaw and Audra McDonald; clarinetists Richard Stoltzman and David Shifrin; and cellist Bernard Greenhouse, as well as members of the Brentano, Guarneri, Juilliard, and Cleveland string quartets.

    As quartet-in-residence at the New England Conservatory for 20 years, the Borromeo has opened “doors of perception” to a generation of young musicians who are now themselves heard by audiences around the world. An informal public master class series, titled Early Evenings with the Borromeo, regularly attracts standing-room-only crowds. The ensemble returned to the Taos School of Music in New Mexico last summer for its seventh season of mentoring outstanding young musicians.

    The Borromeo String Quartet has been heard in the most illustrious concert halls, including Tokyo’s Casals Hall, Daiichi Seimei Hall, the Concertgebouw, Wigmore Hall, and the Opéra national de Paris–Bastille, as well as the Library of Congress, Alice Tully Hall, Jordan Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Kennedy Center. It has been invited to perform at music festivals around the world, including Spoleto, Orlando in the Netherlands, Music Isle in Korea, and throughout North America at the Rockport, Maverick, Marlboro, La Jolla, Music@Menlo, Ravinia, Vancouver, and Tanglewood music festivals. First violinist Nicholas Kitchen was artistic director of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival for six seasons.

    In 2007, the Borromeo String Quartet received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, and since 2006, the Aaron Copland House has honored the quartet’s commitment to contemporary music with its Borromeo String Quartet Award, which introduces the work of important young composers to audiences internationally. The Borromeo has enjoyed collaborations with such composers as Gunther Schuller, Lera Auerbach, Steve Mackey, Osvaldo Golijov, Derek Bermel, John Cage, György Ligeti, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Thomas Adès, Robert Maggio, James Matheson, and Mohammed Fairouz.

    The quartet recently released a CD of music by Béla Bartók, Gunther Schuller, and Mohammed Fairouz. It has also recorded the masterworks of Beethoven, and its disc of works by Ravel was honored with the Chamber Music America / WQXR Award for Recording Excellence. Visit for more information.

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Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor ("Death and the Maiden") (Allegro)
Juilliard String Quartet

At a Glance

ARNOLD SCHOENBERG  String Quartet No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 7

The First Quartet was Schoenberg’s personal favorite; he considered it the “most mature” of his four numbered quartets. It looks backward to the hyper-chromatic musical language of Wagner and Mahler, and forward to the emancipated dissonances of Schoenberg’s atonal works.

FRANZ SCHUBERT  String Quartet in D Minor, D. 810, “Death and the Maiden”

Toward the end of his short life, Schubert became fixated on the idea of writing a “grand symphony” on the scale of Beethoven’s Ninth. Although that project never got off the drawing board, he hinted at its nature in the three great string quartets that he wrote between 1824 and 1826. Like its two companions, the D-Minor Quartet is a work of majestic proportions and elaborate thematic development.

Program Notes
This performance is part of Quartets Plus.

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