Articles & Reviews

The Borromeo Quartet: championing US composer Russell Platt

Many came up to chat with the members of the Borromeo Quartet, and to congratulate Russell Platt, who wrote Mountain Interval (2016) for the group. Platt, whose ‘day job’ is writing for the New Yorker, was inspired by the poems of Robert Frost, and wanted to create a complement to Beethoven’s String Quartet No.14, op.131, which closed the programme. For his seven-part work, Platt chose Frost examples ranging from the serene The Pasture, to the horrific Out, Out, which describes an accident with a chainsaw. Platt’s language is primarily tonal, but inflected with sharp turns, made all the more surprising in the quartet’s sure hands.

Beethoven’s seven movements yielded warmth and humanity, perhaps even more keenly following Platt’s homage. Sure attacks, confident phrasing and secure intonation were all in place, along with hair-trigger awareness of the composer’s unpredictability.

Opening the evening was Mozart’s String Quartet No.18 K465, deftly done with delightful assurance and lithe textures. But the night’s apex came with Platt’s gritty ode – to Beethoven, to Frost, and to the superb Borromeo players.

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Bruce HodgesThe Strad