Violinist Boris Begelman 390.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Russian-born Baroque violinist Boris Begelman, who spends most of his time in
Italy, returns to Israel to perform Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the
Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra around the country between February 11 –
In a phone interview on the eve of his tour, the Moscow Conservatoire
graduate, who has been continuing his education at the Conservatorio di Palermo
with Enrico Onofri, talks about his attraction to the Baroque violin.
all started at the Moscow Conservatoire, where we had to play both modern and
Baroque violin, and I liked it.
I think that what we do, playing on
period instruments, is closer to how the composer intended his music to sound,
although the disputes on the subject are endless,” says the 28-year-old
Speaking about the classical and the Baroque violin, Begelman
explains that the differences between the two are not only technical but above
all “in the way you think of it. For me, the historically informed performance
is a quest for music, a quest for simple truths. Because the contemporary violin
is overgrown with stereotypes – well, regrettably, we see the similar process in
the old music performance, too, since this movement has existed for decades
already. But still, there is a lot of amazingly beautiful music, written some
200 to 300 years ago, that has never been performed.”
Begelman tries not
to limit himself to this or that repertoire and not abandon completely the
modern violin, but on the whole he plays music starting with the 17th century to
the classical period.
“I lately recorded a disk of Telemann, who is one
of the composers I love dearly, with several sonatas that have never been
recorded and am not sure if they have ever been performed at all!” The violinist
goes on to say that he discovered a few pieces by Telemann that have never been
published even in the 18th century, and working with the ancient and
not-so-well-preserved manuscripts was a difficult but very rewarding
“It took me several days to decipher them, since the manuscripts
are between 250 to 300 years old. I worked with my violin in my hands, trying to
realize what the composer meant. I cannot say that I am 100 percent sure that I
got it, but I follow the laws of music; I try to choose what sounds best to me.
On the other level, how do we know that we have got the composer’s ideas
correctly? Well, this is the major question of the historically informed
performance. We read a lot, and we try to approach this music not from the point
of view of the 21st century person but from that of the composer’s
contemporaries. Because what was written at that time was regarded an
innovation. For example, I try to imagine how the music sounded written by the
same composer 10 years before that or who were the composers that created around
him. For example, there is an immense difference between the music written in
1670 and 1720. Not that it is better, but in terms of the development of the
style. So a musician who was active at that period was going this way together
with the music,” he explains.
Begelman lived in Israel for a while and
has close family living in the country. “I came to Israel from Italy, and I
liked it here a lot, but regrettably it is too complicated,” he says. “I wish I
could have lived in Israel, but my work involves a lot of travel, which is far
too difficult when you live in Israel. Europe is great, but I would like to live
in a place that is more dear to me, like Moscow or Israel. I still have not
decided what should I do about it,” he admits.
Begelman performs the solo
in four Vivaldi concerti, under the title The Four Seasons, with the Jerusalem
Baroque Orchestra under David Shemmer. The program also features Lamento sopra
la morte di Ferdinando III
by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer and Bach’s Coffee
.Saturday at noon at St. John the Baptist Church in Haifa (04)
836-3804; February 15 at 8:30 p.m. at Ganei Tikva (03) 737-5777; February 19 at
9 p.m. at the Einav Cultural Center in Tel Aviv (03) 546-6228; and February 21
at 8 p.m. at the Jerusalem Theater (02) 560-5755.