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

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

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.