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Genova Review

Mercantile, Genova, 9 April 2008

Kopelman Quartet: a great success

Mikhail Kopelman is an extraordinary violinist, in various ways: a long and intense career, prestigious prizes, a refined technique and, above all, a beautiful and moving sound.  His best assets are not only his great interpretation but also that he has been able to put together a musical ensemble which is virtually perfect.  For his amazing interpretation, he was rewarded with a standing ovation by the public in Genoa on Monday evening.  In the Kopelman Quartet, the enormous virtuosity of the four  musicians and the personality of each one is mingled.  Their unity, their sensibility was determined by the fact that they have studied together in the extraordinary  Moscow Conservatoire,  where taught the sacred lions such as Oistrakh and  Rostropovich, part of the great Russian tradition.  On top of everything, Mikhail Kopelman, Boris Kuschnir, Igor Sulyga and Mikhail Milman are friends who share the pleasure of playing together, recreating the sound of the great composers - they have this in common, and the wish to make this, their own,  music known to the world.

The fact that they started with the 2nd string quartet by Borodin, one of the most genuine Russian composers who managed to show the soul of his own country, a passionate musician by vocation, shows exactly what the quartet wants to achieve - Russian music played with joy.  We see this light, oriental perfume with fresh, new invention,  very spontaneous, the lyric beauty of the wonderful notturno.  Everything to the audience’s ear speaks of a far-away country and of the genuine love of music.  The sound of the four Russians is simply marvellous, tender and deep at the same time, caressing but also powerful.

Long applause, and we move to the next piece, the quartet no 8 by Shostakovich, a stylistic,  historic and biographical leap, the opposite extreme of theRussian musical path, the USSR, politics, the illusion which becomes disillusion, politics mixed with aesthetics, the drama of the ‘900s. In the quartet you  feel vague melodic memories which underline the modernity and disintegration, mingling the disturbing irony of the allegretto with the following gloomy pessimism and struggling melancholy. The interpretation adds emotion to emotion; the depth of the sound is like an abyss.  The musical notes become quite tense and at the same time struggle.  The difference between the first and second violin disappears because Kuschnir is very good, autonomous and independent, and so are the other two.

More warm applause, interval, and then we go back to Russia . The journey in the steppes is completed by this piece, Tchaikovsky’s  2nd string quartet. The vivace is a lively and delicate piece, mercurial in its continuous change of mood. It appears a cloud continuously shaped by the wind and by the light, pulling back to popular tradition,  to small corners of yearning, to the brightness of the the drawing room and to the passionate romanticism of the andante.  The level of execution remains of course very high.

An overwhelming final standing ovation achieves an encore, the andante cantabile by Tchaikovsky.

Antonio Lavarello