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There are lots of string orchestras around… And if the Divertissement from St.Petersburg makes you lend your ears to their brand-new Cd, a serios competition is surely growing strong abroad. The ensemble has shown impressive results. What is most admirable is their subtlest, as if engraved, refinement of details. It is really breathtaking to hear what they do - Ilia Ioff and Divertissment.
( West Deutsche Rundschau, Koeln)

The sonority of strings is trimmed with glamorous gloss. The quality of the neatly harmonized ensemble motion is never lazy or placid. On the contrary, you feel their jovial fiddlestick energy. Potentially, something the size of the Moscow Virtuosos.
( Kommersant)

The audience like to see on the stage young good-looking musicians, perfect in musicianship, able to perform a work of classical composer strictly, precisely and thoughtfully - and also able to transform all of a sudden, to fling seriousness, and to turn into "hot" jazzmen.
(Komsomolskaya pravda)

The Divertissement, brilliantly performing ancient music, this traditional repertoire of small string orchestras, puts the Romanticism and 20th century heritage, jazz and light music, on its performing list. The listeners will remember for long the subtlest sounding of Schoenberg's Transfigured Night, the utmost images of Schnittke's Concerto Grosso, the air-light breath of young Mendelssohn's symphony.
(Nevskoye vremya)

 

 

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!

Says Ilya 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 Ordinary Miracle.

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' job.

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
 

     
 

"We do anything musicians can ever do in their trade!"
says Ilya Ioff. Isn't that right? Years ago, Hemingway remarked
that life is a success only when it looks like a Marathon race.

 

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The Divertissement String Ensemble, St. Petersburg, Russia
Artistic director Ilya Ioff
E-mail: iioff@yandex.ru, nocturne@sp.ru

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