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Valentin Berlinsky

Maria Matalaev
£18.95 - $29.95

Valentin Berlinsky (1925-2008), was a founding member of the Borodin Quartet and its cellist and mainstay for more than six decades. A proud Russian but also a man of compromise, his was a life lived for and through the Borodin Quartet. This book tells his story in his own words, lovingly compiled and edited by his grand-daughter, Maria Matalaev, from his diaries, correspondence and interviews, and his accounts of his close friendships with the likes of Shostakovich and Richter, Rostropovich and Oistrakh. Supplemented by tributes from family and friends, as well as an impressive annexure giving every performance, broadcast and recording made by the Borodin Quartet, this book constitutes one of the most revealing chronicles of Soviet and post-Soviet Russian musical life. In 2005, at the celebrations for both his 80th birthday and the 60th anniversary of the Borodin Quartet, Valentin Berlinsky sat down at a table with his students and said: 'My dears, please, keep going: never leave Russia!'


On so many levels, this is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read: a history of the legendary Borodin Quartet, not coincidentally packed with musical wisdom enlightening, or at least food for thought, to any musician. Furthermore, it’s a memoir of the extraordinary talent among both teachers and students of the Moscow Conservatory in the 1940s (Shostakovich, David Oistrakh and Rostropovich just some of the most famous); and – perhaps most intriguing of all – a candid portrait of the Borodin’s long-standing cellist, Valentin Berlinsky. Readers may recall the memoir of another one-time key member of the Borodin, Rostslav Dubinsky’s Stormy Applause, in which Berlinsky is cast in a sinister light as a Stalinist stooge. Do put all prejudice aside and try this extraordinary memoir-cum-history from the man himself. Conjured from a rich mix of sources – Berlinsky's diary, reviews, interviews published for the first time – what emerges from the book is a profound musician fanatically dedicated to the quartet and the repertoire it excelled in. Anyone disappointed by their Christmas haul should not hesitate but treat themselves.' 5 stars Daniel Jaffé, BBC Music Magazine, February 2019 ”

'Here is a book created with such passion that even those who question the place of music in today's world will have their faith restored. The Borodin Quartet was to the string quartet what Richter was to the piano, Oistrakh to the violin, Rostropovich to the cello. But the story of this Soviet ensemble - the first to come out of the USSR to give concerts abroad - was inextricably linked to the personality of its founder, the cellist Valentin Berlinsky.' Franck Mallet, Classica ”

'Despite the diversity of the contents, the book reads like a novel, plunging the reader into the daily constraints in which Soviet musicians were obliged to function. Berlinsky does not evade the multiple difficulties that constantly confront the Quartet but shows no bitterness towards his country which he always refused to leave.' Sebastien Foucart, Concertonet.com ”

'Above all, what shines through is the incredible destiny of a magnificent chamber group which, despite the incessant discriminations due to the Jewish origin of some of its members, would become, world-wide and for decades, the most prestigious symbol of the Russian school of quartet playing.' 'Enriched by numerous annexes and a discography, this book throws new light, remarkably well documented, on both an individual and a collective experience, undoubtedly unique in the history of the string quartet.' Patrick Szersnovicz, Diapason No.640 ”

'Siberian childhood, musical apprenticeship in Moscow, war, the funeral of Stalin, greatness and subjugation, exceptional figures, tours abroad, requirements, success, advice from Shostakovich in person, all are abundantly reproduced here, but also ethics, pedagogy and thoughts on the profession. Certainly the most captivating document on the art of interpretation that we have seen in the last several years.' Frederic Gaussin, Lettre du musicien No.462 ”






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