The Divertissement String Ensemble of St. Petersburg are all young,
handsome, merry and witty people. They love music, live music, and can do everything
in music. Briefly, they are high-class professionals.
Why do such things happen? Some people are endowed with everything,
just everything! Cleverness, youth, beauty, talent… It may well be unfair to put
so much in one place; but then again, it is so splendid! Could the Divertissement
ever attract sold-out houses of nice, progressive, educated, and really live and
music-obsessed audience, if all the gifts in the world were apportioned in scarce,
although equal teaspoonfuls? "Life is beautiful because it is unfair" - the paradox
is beautiful and it does work, just fancy!
There are companies specializing in purely academic culture, and
there are entertainers. The Divertissement (an affiliate of the Peterburgconcert,
can do both, and perfectly too. They can manage everything, "from Bach to Chaplin",
as severe musical critics admit. In their interpretation, Bach and Schoenberg,
Haydn, Vivaldi and Mendelssohn appear free of academic starch. The dust of centuries
is shaken off, and live emotions of great composers of the past are revived for
the audience. The shining eyes of the shining musicians - that's where you can
see real challenging ardor! And Bach himself was really challenging and ardent
when making his music. The Bachian sparkles brewed with an inherent musical insight
- isn't that a mixture!
Ioff, the Divertissement's leader and artistic director since 1998:"If I do
something, I like to do it well!" If he takes his violin and you are in the hall,
you are lucky! Ilya's musical life is a turbulent one, featuring, apart from the
Divertissement, also chamber and solo performing, recitals, recording, and touring
(www.officinamusica.de). In fact, nearly all the musicians in the ensemble are
like that. They're in demand, but "top-selling" is probably a better word!
On the standing list of the ensemble are 17 musicians. Virtually
each of them is on the scene, in the news and on the air. Doublebassist Grigory
Voskoboinik successfully plays in the Double
Duo Ma.Gr.Ig.Al., and is also a remarkable person in the Petersubg jazz world.
First violin Lidia Kovalenko whom Ilya Ioff calls his "right hand" (although she
stands on his left) collaborates with the
Northern Flowers organization, violinist Alexey Bayev regularly performs with
singer Oleg Pogudin (www.csa.ru/pogudin), and harpsichord player Mikhail Blekher
is an expert in Baroque-epoch music. But, despite all the above, something brings
them together in the Divertissement. Explains Lidia Kovalenko: "Awfully interesting!
If not for the Divertissement, there would hardly be any chance to play music
so different and so amazing. And it makes you feel needed, as a professional and
as a human."
Flawless music making, like so many other aspects, is a merit
of Ilya Ioff. While he, as artistic director, conductor, soloist, and a smart
psychologist, insists that all the guys/gals in the team are just SUPER!
This generation, born in the late 60s and early 70s, is a really
mighty one, just like a mighty graduation happening some year at a school for
unknown reasons. Their childhood was the time of triumph of grey-haired renowned
maestros, a triumph stretched for decades. In their youth they saw cultivation
of infant prodigies, who wee in the focus and in the news those days, and of whom
many are quite forgotten today. While they, without any pomp or special glasshouse
environment, have reached the top on their own. True enough, they have: lots of
successful brilliant musicians are known among this "lost generation."
The Divertissement displays a dazzling concert life, gathering
full houses of listeners who have become friends. They freeze during a performance
of The Last Seven Words of Our Lord Jesus Christ On The Cross by Joseph Haydn,
and sincerely enjoy the plain song by Isaac Schwarz from the motion picture An
The company's manager Michael Kreiz, a remarkable flutist and
teacher, on of the founders of the Divertissement, has been serving the ensemble
for ten years, bringing as much comfort as really possible into the musicians'
During theyr debut in USA (Atlanta) in September 2002 The Divertissement
has got a standing ovation after first half of the concert.
Irina Bondarenko, text
Vadim Egorovsky, photo