Borromeo gives intimate, sophisticated performance

The setting at the Colonie Country Club provided a soiree atmosphere for the excellent Borromeo Stri

The setting at the Colonie Country Club provided a soiree atmosphere for the excellent Borromeo String Quartet, which was making a return engagement to the Renaissance Musical Arts Concert series.

In the quartet’s only state appearance as part of its spring tour, violinists Nicholas Kitchen and Kristopher Tong, violist Mai Motobuchi and cellist Yeesun Kim presented a broad-ranging program. They began with Beethoven’s Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3, which was not only an early work but the first string quartet he wrote, Kitchen told the crowd.

With those qualifications, the four movements were very sophisticated with much independent and interweaving parts and a very sunny mood.

The quartet produced a warm sound, did some nice ensemble work and used delicate, light articulations. Balances were especially good, considering the deep pile carpet and the intimacy of the space, which had the audience barely 10 feet away from the musicians.

The movements sped along with bouncy rhythms, clean technique and an insouciant charm.

Osvaldo Golijov’s “Yiddishbbuk” was a total contrast. The five short sections memorialized three children who perished at the concentration camp in Terezin, and paid tribute to Isaac Bashevis Singer and Leonard Bernstein.

Golijov’s sound world evoked the chaos and torment of Terezin with bent notes, dissonance and a frenetic angst, but it was done with a cohesiveness and precision that was compelling. Singer’s section had close harmonics in haunting tones, and Bernstein’s ranged from harsh shards of chords to plucked strings and bent notes.

The quartet played the piece with great intensity and commitment and felt the music as well as any musicians could. That understanding possibly came from having worked with Golijov, who now makes his home in New York City.

Violist Jessica Bodner and cellist Kee-Hyun Kim, on loan from the Parker String Quartet, joined the Borromeo to perform Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence.” Melodies gushed unendingly over the four movements, which the sextet played with a big rich tone and passion with a capital “p.”

It built the numerous climaxes not so much by dynamic changes as by the level of intensity. A bit more could have been done with the inner voices because the score is so thick with interplay and overlay.

But no one can fault that they gave the piece their all.

Categories: Life and Arts

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