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CD Review

In Memoriam Valentin Berlinsky

January 19, 1925 - December 18, 2008

Julian Milkis, clarinet
Borodin Quartet
Lontano 2564-69074-6 71m DDD
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This CD is dedicated to the recently departed Valentin Berlinsky, one of the stalwarts of the Borodin Quartet who recorded countless time together. Mozart and Brahms are quite apt couplings and both these works for clarinet and string quartet are full of a certain autumnal longing which makes them truly special.

Milkis is the ideal interpreter with his rich body of tone and quite marvelous sense of occasion throughout, ably supported by the Borodin players with Berlinsky in particular element. The Allegro is particularly enticing with all the magic of the music falling uncannily into place.

I also greatly enjoyed the Brahms which is another towering performance throughout especially in its concluding pages which are almost palpable in their sense of a fast approaching end. There is also something in Berlinsky's playing which indicates his own impending passing although these are recordings registered in 2000, eight years before he died in December 2008.

Lontano's recordings are quite impeachable with the aura of the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory providing a most suitable ambience. The album is naturally full of photos of Berlinsky and the Borodin Quartet but there is also space for some short but perceptive notes on the works themselves.

Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech