This preview has been provided by St. Stephen’s Concert Series.

For a number of years the celebrated Borromeo String Quartet has presented “Beethoven Plus” programs at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Durham, that is, programs consisting of two Beethoven string quartets plus a third work (possibly also by Beethoven). (Last year they presented Beethoven’s three Razumovsky Quartets, and, years earlier, there was the monumental “Late Beethoven Triptych” consisting of Op. 130 with the Grosse Fugue, Op. 131, and Op. 132.). Having performed most of Beethoven’s string quartets in this way, the Borromeos will return to the church on Sunday, February 23 with works by Mozart, Bartók, and Dvořák — specifically, Mozart’s third “Prussian” Quartet, Bartók’s magnificently craggy 4th Quartet, and Dvořák’s C major Quartet, Op. 61. According to the quartet’s first violinist, Nicholas Kitchen, one finds in these three pieces the composers’ most virtuosic writing for string quartet. 

Performing about 100 concerts per year, the Borromeo has been called “the rock star of chamber music.” A more nuanced appraisal of the group appeared in the Chicago Tribune: “A remarkably accomplished string quartet, not simply for its high technical polish and refined tone, but more importantly for the searching musical insights it brings.” The San Diego Reader described a performance by the quartet as “a musical experience of luminous beauty.” An even more insightful description of the Borromeo experience comes form Cathy Fuller, Classical New England host on WGBH, Boston’s famed NPR station. “To hear and see them perform has always felt to me like taking a private tour through a composer’s mind. They probe and analyze from every angle until they discover how to best unveil the psychological, physical, and spiritual states that a great piece of music evokes. They’re champions of new music… but they also thrive on making the old classics vital and fresh.”

The Borromeo’s concert on Sunday, February 23 is part of the current season of the St. Stephen’s Concert Series. Like other concerts on the series, it begins at 4 pm with a half-hour preconcert discussion at 3 pm. The church is located at 82 Kimberly Drive in the Hope Valley section of Durham. Tickets ($21) can be purchased at the door, but the concert is free for those 18 or under.