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CD of the Week: The Borromeo String Quartet: The Well-Tempered Clavier

The Borromeo String Quartet
Richard Bowditch
The Borromeo String Quartet

Nicholas Kitchen of Boston's Borromeo String Quartet has arranged one of Bach’s timeless keyboard works for string quartet.

Title page to Book I of Bach's "The Well-Tempered Clavier"
Credit Wikimedia Commons
Title page to Book I of Bach's "The Well-Tempered Clavier"

As the Ensemble-in-Residence at both the New England Conservatory of Music and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Boston-based Borromeo String Quartet has become a gem in the local music scene, not to mention the international music stage. In their newest release, the BSQ pays tribute to Bach’s timeless collection of keyboard studies, in a transcription of the solo keyboard works for string quartet. Violinist Nicholas Kitchen explains the inspiration for this daunting project:

“I love these works on keyboard, but what if the music was brought to life in the way a quartet makes music, where four 'singers' bring their combined insight into each detail of the music? … I was fascinated to try this idea, but for many years it remained something I couldn’t even begin to find time for.”

Of all things, the ensemble can thank Beijing traffic for offering the necessary time:

“…every time we moved anywhere in the city to rehearse or play, we spent nearly an hour in traffic. Not having to drive myself, I decided to dive into the project that had been waiting so long – arranging Book One for string quartet. And indeed, after a few more traffic jams, I had a good start.”

The result is joyous.

Listen to a track:

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit Amazon Music.

Listen to the BSQ on WCRB's Classical Performance Podcast.