For more than 65 years, the Borodin Quartet has been celebrated for its insight and authority in the chamber music repertoire. Revered for its searching performances of Beethoven and Shostakovich, the Quartet is equally at home in music ranging from Mozart to Stravinsky.
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 returned to a broader repertoire, including works by 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 members of the Quartet are Ruben Aharonian, Sergey Lomovsky, Igor Naidin and Vladimir Balshin.
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 Yuri Bashmet, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Oleg Maisenberg and Christoph Eschenbach. The Quartet also regularly gives masterclasses.
For its 60th anniversary season, the Borodin Quartet performed cycles of the complete Beethoven quartets at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam and Musikverein, Vienna. Gala concerts honouring the Quartet’s contribution to musical history were performed in Moscow and at London’s Wigmore Hall and Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris. The Ensemble was also heard in recital in Madrid, Rotterdam, Brussels, Geneva, Munich, Lisbon, Barcelona, Athens, Köln, Istanbul, Zurich, Berlin, Moscow, New York and London, playing the music of Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Shostakovich – and of course Borodin.
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, RCA and Teldec. Among its Teldec recordings, those of Tchaikovsky’s Quartets and Souvenir de Florence, Schubert’s String Quintet, Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ and a disc of Russian miniatures all received acclaim. The Tchaikovsky disc was honoured with a Gramophone Award in 1994. The CD label Chandos recorded and released the complete Beethoven quartets as part of the 60th anniversary celebration.
Raised in Moscow, Ludmila Berlinskaya, daughter of cellist Valentin Berlinsky, founder of the Borodin Quartet studied at the Gnessine Institute and the Moscow Conservatory. Her meeting with Sviatoslav Richter was a determining factor in her career as she was able to perform piano duets with him and in productions which he directed (such as Britten’s The Turn of the Screw).
Berlinskaya eventually settled in France, where her qualities as a chamber-music player were quickly recognised, her regular partners being Rostropovitch, Yuri Bashmet, the Borodin Quartet and Victor Tretiakov, amongst others.
She has performed in concerts with Paul Meyer, Ivry Gitlis, Gérard Caussé, Gautier Capuçon, Henri Demarquette, Jean-Jacques Kantorow and Alain Meunier. Regarded as a Shostakovich specialist, she has played all his piano chamber music, including the most obscure and unpublished pieces.
She founded the Association Berlinsky, which favours forgotten works and runs the ‘Musical Spring in Paris’ festival, which has taken place in some of the city’s most prestigious concert halls, such as the Salle Gaveau and the Radio France auditorium. During this festival, she programmed the first version of Poulenc’s Aubade with original choreography and the premiere in Paris of Scriabin’s Prometheus in a version with a keyboard with lights.