This event is rescheduled from January 26.

This season at New England Conservatory, 30+ concerts demonstrate just how vital music is to human struggle, and what revolution in artistic expression sounds like. Programs range from roots music to Beethoven, fight songs to anti-war anthems. Join our year-long exploration of how music speaks truth to power!

Borromeo String Quartet

Great artists give free concerts at New England Conservatory—simply because they teach here.

Written between 1909 and 1939, Béla Bartók's six string quartets are like snapshots of the radical series of moves that we now call Modernism. Starting out from a first quartet that brings Hungarian folk themes into a Beethoven-like idiom, by the middle quartets dissonance had crept in along with folkloric material from North Africa, and by his final quartet he was playing games with the traditional four-movement structure itself. Discussion of the 1939 quartet often focuses on its implied programmatic narrative: a protest against the advance of Hitler. Borromeo String Quartet, NEC's quartet-in-residence, travels through all six of these Bartók masterworks in a single evening:

Béla Bartók (1881–1945)   
String Quartet No. 1, op. 7 (1908-9)
Allegro vivace

String Quartet No. 2, op. 17 (1915-17)
Allegro molto capriccioso

String Quartet No. 3 (1926)
Prima parte
Secunda parte
Ricapitulazione della prima parte    

String Quartet No. 4 (1927)
Prestissimo, con sordino
Non troppo lento
Allegretto pizzicato
Allegro molto

String Quartet No. 5 (1934)
Adagio molto
Scherzo: Alla bulgarese
Finale: Allegro vivace

String Quartet No. 6 in D (1939)
Mesto –Vivace
Mesto – Marcia
Mesto – Burletta

The ensemble has continued to explore this body of work over several years and has performed the quartets in the U.S. and abroad. See what the critics have written about these concerts.

"This time the Borromeo String Quartet did not just focus on any one thing, but they tasted everything in each piece, and—without being vague—they communicated every characteristic of the music as a whole. Therefore, as a listener, one can feel an incredible sense of pleasure and be amazed by the enormous amount of information without feeling as if the Borromeos are simplifying in order for the audience to comprehend. From now on, all Bartok performances will have to be at least at this level of performance, and if anyone could surpass this level, it would most likely be the Borromeo String Quartet."
—Tsutomu Katsumura, Startline, Tokyo after performance in Daiichi Seimei Hall

"Some ensembles give the impression of serving as conduits to an interpretation carefully worked out in rehearsal. But the Borromeo offered an afternoon of edge-of-the-seat music-making that grappled palpably with the composer's dark haunting visions in the process of bringing them to life."
—Jeremy Eichler, Boston Globe

"Certain music never becomes easy. In fact, the formidability of Bela Bartok's six string quartets increases over time, especially when heard in the marathon concert by the Borromeo String Quartet Sunday at the Curtis Institute. Though not the first Bartok marathon in my experience, it was the most intense, 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."
David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

Date: May 14, 2014 - 7:00:PM
Price: Free
Location: NEC’s Jordan Hall

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NEC's FREE concerts do not require a ticket, unless stated in concert listing.
Unreserved seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Doors open 30 minutes prior to the concert's start time.