|Founded in 1975 by Moscow Conservatory students of the Borodin Quartet’s famed cellist Valentin Berlinsky, the Moscow String Quartet has been praised by The Philadelphia Inquirer for the grace, sonority, and lyricism associated with Borodin, “their natural home.” Included in the ensemble’s impressive repertoire, of course, are Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. They have also championed the work of more contemporary Russian composers like Sofia Gubaidulina and Alfred Schnittke. The MSQ artists name, as their inspirations, great Russian musicians: Oistrakh, Rostropovich, Richter, Gilels, and Berlinsky. It is no wonder that they are considered one of the major Russian chamber ensembles currently performing and recording.
At a concert organized by West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt and at the special invitation of then Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke, the group played in Berlin Stadium to celebrate the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The quartet has toured extensively throughout Europe and North America, including performances in the United States at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and the White House. Glowing reviews of MSQ performances consistently focus on the group’s musical patience, producing “inward subtleties” (The Philadelphia Inquirer) and its “lithe athleticism and wry wit” (Stereophile). The Dallas Morning News noted “deft, elegant playing, passionate where called for, but never hysterical. . . . a welcome reprieve from the turbocharged assaults” too often made by other ensembles. Jerry Dubins, in reviewing for Fanfare a new release (2014) of the quartet’s performance of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 2 in A, declared “this is amazing music-making at its highest level.”
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