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Musical World

Boris Belkin

  • Violinist


Boris Belkin reviews / press
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

"... the violin remains isolated within the orchestral hostilities, making for a vivid and chilling first movement, and Belkin's warm, elegant tone was beautiful and moving... The third movement is a searingly tragic set of variations that is one of the greatest and most intense moments in all music, and Belkin and Nowak shaped this expertly, leading to the violin's unaccompanied cadenza, surely the longest and most demanding in all violin literature. It exploded into the frantic dance finale. Many in the Winspear audience seemed unsure of what they had experienced - it's not a work you "enjoy" - but they knew they'd heard a great violinist, and Belkin received a standing ovation." John Charles, The Sun

"... Russian-born violinist Boris Belkin, who is rarely given a chance to rest in the piece (Shostakovich VC1), plumbed its depths and contrasts with a firm, resolute hand, yet one which sought out whatever beauty could be had. This is a demanding work, for both soloist and audience. Belkin did his part - the emotional pull and tug was transfixing... The audience, too, knew a great performance of this dark piece, with many standing at the end." D T Baker, Edmonton Journal

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

"... Russian born Boris Belkin started making waves in the West in the early 1970s; this week marks the violinist's overdue debut with the BSO. A sensitive, straight forward player, Belkin burrowed deeply into the Prokofiev concerto, releasing the pensive character of the first movement, the sweetness of the second, the sauciness of the finale. His tone was strong and pure, his technique secure. Temirakanov ensured seamless support for the soloist." Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

"...Centrepiece of the programme... was an incredibly dangerous interpretation of Brahms's Violin Concerto, in which both Weller and soloist Boris Belkin appeared to conspire to dump the conventional strategies of classical structure and dramatic momentum in favour of a lingeringly rhapsodic view of the music. Amazingly, though the music hovered languorously and lethally around stalling speed, it never fell out of the sky. In lesser hands it would have succumbed to gravity. Here, it was gripping, if hair-raising." Michael Tumelty, The Herald

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

"... Boris Belkin, in his Symphony debut, gave the concerto a crisp, soulful reading..." Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

"Boris Belkin was the rhetorical soloist in Paganini's extremely complicated Concerto No 1 for Violin and Orchestra. This work demands technical dexterity from the soloist and Belkin is one of a handful of violinists who can make it look and sound less difficult than it is... Belkin is Russian by birth but his body language and personality are like those of a sophisticated Italian entrepreneur. How can one look so relaxed when one is so busy? Apart from the stunning technique there were some beautifully executed phrases in this performance." Anthony Camden

Saarländischer Rundfunk Saarbrücken

"...In dem russischen Geiger Boris Belkin hatte Stern einen idealen Interpreten fur dieses schwierige Werk gefunden. Belkin gestaltete den riesigen Monolog in vier Satzen mit schonem, weichem Bogenstrich, in dem vielfaltigste Gefuhlsnuancen mit schwangen. Die weitgespannten Steigerungen bewaltigte er mit nie ermudender Energie..."

Orchestre Philharmonique de Montpellier

".... Boris Belkin etait plus que virtuouse dans sa partie de violon. Il etait ange sombre et lumineux, sensible et fort, dans la douceur sensuelle comme dans la pensee etheree. Ses aigus fondants amenes jusqu a la transparence, ses doubles cordes intenses, sa longue cadence d'une sonorite profonde et solaire meritaient tous les triomphes. Le plus emouvant etait celui des musiciens... Michele Fizaine, Midi Libre

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

"...I remember when violinist Boris Belkin appeared with the band, many years ago, in the City Hall. He was a lean, mean, fighting machine of a musician, who, with his long dark hair and swarthy looks, resembled something more dangerous than a fiddler. Age may have mellowed somewhat his physical appearance, but, by God, he remains a razor-sharp player.

If he had played the first two movements of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, it would have been good enough, but - pardon my French - bloody hell, have you ever heard anything like that finale? The fastest on record? The most unbelievably articulate? Have you heard before such control at that speed?

It was explosive and electrifying from start to close - the bow must have been red hot, and how the poor wee box of wood, glue, and strings didn't disintegrate in surrender is beyond me. Unforgettable..."Michael Tumelty, Herald

"It is a miracle that Boris Belkin's performance of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the RSNO on Saturday got to the end in one piece. Not only was it probably one of the fastest on record - possibly by as much as five minutes - but laden with extremes of tempo and mood, the finale took on an intriguing and devilish character, a sense of Sturm und Drang you wouldn't normally associate with the work.

...The glimpse of fretfulness which Belkin introduced right from the start was, in retrospect, a hint of what was coming.

In the first two movements, his ravishing portrayal of Tchaikovsky's succulent melodies, his grip on the ferocious technical demands, all fooled us by their composure and refinement. Underpinning all this was a simmering turbulence which erupted, inevitably but unexpectedly and with enormous force, in the finale to provide one of the most thrilling, cathartic and knife-edged endings I can recall..." Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman

"...Playing the (Sibelius) Concerto with the RSNO on Thursday the Russian Violinist Boris Belkin showed that he was capable of coping with the cruellest technical challenges. But that wasn't what stuck in the memory. In Belkin's hands the first movement was spacious and melancholic, the meditative sadness interrupted, but not ultimately disturbed by passing orchestral storms. The slow movement was tender, almost confessional... Belkin summoned exactly the right colour for each phrase; and he has the kind of pianissimo that fills big spaces, like an actor whose whisper is audible from the back of the theatre gallery." Stephen Johnson, The Scotsman

Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

"...The audience of the first half then came across the enjoyment of a racy solo performance, by the Russian Violinist, Boris Belkin, who in Alexander Glazunov's first violin concerto produced an effective and elated dialogue with the Deutschen Symphonikern. A top class Virtuoso..." Hajo Schroeder, Leverkusener Anzeiger

Bayerischer Rundfunk

"...Soloist Boris Belkin puts energy and unbelievable intensity into his playing. He seems very tense - like a sprinter before the starting shot. But he can also play with feeling and tenderness... He mastered the staccato-effect in the final rondo with bravura..." Peter Baier, Munchner Merkur

"Boris Belkin managed to provoke a total silence in the audience as if it was listening to a symphony by Bruckner. Belkin showed with a sparkling technique and never sentimental sound how to save this significant early work. It couldn't have been better." Volker Boser, AZ

"... with a blameless technique he played with his astounding range of expression. He puts a passionate allegro next to an intensely romantic sound and rapid prestissimo virtuosity in the finale. The orchestra played with the kind of attentiveness which is heightened by such a soloist." Martina Kausch

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonic Hall

"... Belkin's technique was faultless and the performance stylish..." Rex Bawden

"... After an energetic start, the mesmerizing slow movement of the violin concerto was the highlight, accompanied by the captivating warmth of the strings..."Claire Breithaupt

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Barbican

"...he has matured in tone and interpretation... this Brahms Concerto was warm, strongly articulated, positively projected and impressive in its command of style. He still cuts a fine figure on the platform, maintaining an air of aristocratic concentration which is reflected in his playing. He has already recorded, among other things, the Bruch and Sibelius concertos with the RPO under Junichi Hirokami - the same forces that accompanied him adeptly in this concert - and the union is obviously a happy and fruitful one."Geoffrey Norris, The Daily Telegraph

BBC Scottish Symphony/Junichi Hirokami

"... Boris Belkin was the soloist in Glazunov's Violin Concerto. He gave a virtuoso performance that made light of the technical demands of the work including more passages of extended double-stopping than I have heard in any other concerto - and always bang in tune." Alan Cooper, Press & Journal Aberdeen

".. Joined by the great Russian violinist Boris Belkin for the Glazunov Violin Concerto Hirokami held the orchestra like a shimmering safety net. Belkin's tremendous performances were rewarded with an uproar of applause..." Evening Express

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Ashkenazy - Royal Festival Hall

"... Boris Belkin proved a sympathetic interpreter, switching from pensive discourse into sunny melodiousness at no more than a quaver's notice..." Barry Millington, The Times

Cleveland Orchestra

".. Belkin played with sure technical command thereafter, maintaining a beautiful and musical sound while still riding comfortably above the surges of the sound that Ashkenazy was coaxing from the orchestra. His pitch was secure, his sense of nuances accurate as he inflected the concerto's phrasing to give it life and shape. In the slow movement especially his musicality was evident. There was power aplenty for the big lyric statements, yet also delicacy for the little questioning scale figures above the soft pulses of the orchestral strings.... Much of the violin solo writing might be the work of some Northern Paganini, and Belkin did not neglect this aspect of the work, tossing of scales, double and triple stops and other violinistic feats with coolness and accuracy..." Robert Finn, The Plain Dealer

Brahms Violin Sonatas Nos 1, 2 & 3 - Denon (with Michel Dalberto)

"Boris Belkin and Michel Dalberto do him (Brahms) proud here, striking a finely judged balance between rhetoric and lyricism from the very opening of the First Sonata, and subordinating their considerable instrumental prowess to the music at all times. These are deeply-thought readings which leave little (perhaps too little?) to chance. The players are closely attuned to one another at every level, achieving a sense of harmony well beyond the strictly musical. The conversation is continuous, enlightened and impeccably responsive, the rhythmic contours beautifully supple, never threatened (as so many otherwise excellent performances are) by excessive metrication. The instrumental balances are as well judged by the recording team as by the performers themselves. There may be more unbuttoned versions of these works, but none more civilised or incisive."Jeremy Siepmann, Classic CD

Bruch Concerto No 1 & Sibelius Concerto - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Junichi Hirokami - Denon

"...There are few violinists alive today who could negotiate the Sibelius's notoriously wrist-breaking terrain with such continuously breathtaking sweetness of tone and left-hand infallibility. The Bruch G minor Concerto is also played with a chasteness and purity of utterance that will affect even the most resistant of tear ducts. There is not one ugly sound; Belkin's characteristicaly silver sound is hoisted aloft via bowing of an almost Milsteinian elegance...." Classic CD