Welcome to Shift, where Tom Allen takes you on a daily musical journey from the stalwarts of Classical music to the cutting edge of Contemporary tunes. Join us here on CBC music for a round-up of the stories of the day, some videos of music (or maybe just videos interesting to music fans) and a place to speak your voice.

Shift on November 4th, 2013 - Strings and things! 

A four-piece pop outfit and a string quartet don’t have to be opposites – and sometimes they can bring out the best in each other.

Alexander Borodin wrote his 2nd String Quartet as a gift to his wife, Ekaterina, to commemorate the summer they first fell in love 20 years before. Anyone would find such a beautiful thing to be a meaningful gift, but coming from Borodin it was astonishing.

Borodin was one of art’s great overachievers. He was a medical doctor, a government chemist and the leader of a school of thought of Russian national music. He also, not surprisingly had trouble getting his musical projects finished. When he said he was going to spend the summer writing a quartet, no doubt Ekaterina smiled and said “Sure you are”, but this time he really did it. It was done before fall and remains one of his best-known pieces.

Borodine String Quartet N2 in D Major 2nd Movement

Still, you wouldn’t expect a composer of chamber music to wind up a Broadway mogul – not even a polymath like Borodin. But, in 1954 Robert Wright and George Forrest won a Tony Award for Kismet, the Musical constructed of Borodin’s very singable tunes. This time the tune in question wasn’t called String Quartet No 2, but Baubles, Bangles and Beads, but just as it had charmed Ekaterina decades before, it charmed Broadway, too.

Baubles Bangles and Beads from the 1955 musical Kismet

And let’s give a nod to the most-listened to string quartet in history: Tony Gilbert, Sidney Sax, Kenneth Essex and Francisco Gabarro. They may not have done much as an ensemble – just one recording session of some tasteful backgrounds for a 2-minute pop song in 1965 – but they chose their moment wisely.

The Beatles - Yesterday 

George Martin’s arrangement, with some critical help from Paul McCartney, gave them the greatest platform they could have wanted. 

Here's a simply fantastic Beatles cover by a String Quartet of serious note!  

Quatuor Ebene - Come Together 

In Other News:

Right now, John Connor is travelling back in time from the future and he's carrying a very big rock.

How much would it cost me to buy a creative answer to this tricky question on my college application?

Hey, baby! I've got fleshbags where I mix urine, body fluids and goo from my chin nipples. Come on over!  

You can contact us at SHIFT with your ideas, questions, or anything else by sending us a message on our Facebook page. We are on Twitter,  follow us@CBCR2SHIFT By email, you can reach show producers Alison Howard ( alison.howard@cbc.ca ) or Alex Redekop ( alex.redekop@cbc.ca ) or Pete Morey ( peter.morey@cbc.ca ) 

posted by Pete Morey on Nov 04, 2013