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Bonquinton is a string quintet and a unique team. So far there is not an exact term for the genre played by the musicians. It is a kind of potpourri, which consists of popular classical themes as well as variety and folk ballads, sometimes in unpredictable combinations. However it is different from the traditional potpourri of popular music known from the 19th century. It is more emotionally charged.

All the arrangements are by the head of the group, cellist Andrei Mustafaev. They are full of self irony - universally known tunes suddenly appear as if reflected in a hall of mirrors. Delivered by top class professional musicians every performance is rendered into a refined gift for the audience.

It is not by accident that the ensemble was originally formed as a kind of musical present. It is not usually possible to employ a full symphony orchestra for private functions. Chamber ensemble is a perfect solution for such events.

The collective came together as an alternative to "boring" classical music that is often perceived as only suitable for concert halls and high-brow audiences. The ensemble musicians deeply believe that the big form as a genre has outlived itself and in a way turned into a dusty museum. This it why their concert pieces are short and sophisticated. Some of them are encores, jokes and satires, while others are relatively unknown pieces brought back to life by the ensemble.

One of the first performances of the collective took place in "B-2" club in Moscow, followed by concerts in the UK and other European countries, which were organized in parallel with Tchaikovsky Grand Symphony Orchestra tours. At present Bonquinton successfully tours around Russia in its own right.

Not a single performance is without its surprises. As the members of the quintet say, by playing music of different genres and styles (such as symphonies, opera and ballet) we find and hear something unexpected and unexplored in the everyday and familiar.
... Hold on, how was it? - "...who can be the first to laugh at himself ?" - that's what the old and jolly song seems to say? I mean, of course, that "...success is capricious, it tends to choose among those, who..." - and, perhaps, it is right. Many a time we sang about them, but it was so rarely, very few times, by chance and fleetingly that we could hear them, and even fewer were the moments, when we could see them. And there you look - why, here they are! Those five in tail coats, who really (would be) VERY BORED JUST TO PLAY VERY WELL - if they, for instance, were merely playing very well and doing nothing more :)

It is obvious that once you start serving art in such a well-established, "brand-named" musical group as Tchaikovsky Grand Symphony Orchestra, you forget pretty soon to work in another manner, it goes without saying. However, - well, it's a pity that Oscar Wild didn't live to see such a remake of his play "The importance of being earnest" - but: HOW IMPORTANT IT IS, that this "LAUGHING AT THEMSELVES " should not take place among the experienced and first-rate professionals at "the wave of the hand ", like at the good up-beat! HOW IMPORTANT IT IS, that their virtuous (in the sense that, sometimes really almost risky) irony should not become a habit, which was given us from on high - but has always remained, as today, one of the most essential needs of a thinking human being: well, such as communication, reading, personal enrichment and doing everything possible to fight the surrounding dullish routine.

It is funny to speak here about "virtuosity" - that literal one, which can only be in quotation marks, where one counts the number of notes, played within a unit a time - but this very "funny" may become the driving force of the art, if only you want and use your head! For the brevity and elegance of their music pieces (and by no means all of them are encores, boffolas or caricatures, in fact) means the future, which has already come. Their sound has the features of the new century, which are described in clever books by means of sophisticated words, but here you can hear and see everything, it is all transparent it is in the good old XX century (with its theoretical talks about post-modernism and bulging cheeks of those, who pretend to understand what it means :) - the smiles have been thoroughly rehearsed, the quotes were attended by the references, and when they wanted to surprise the audience they would surely give a "sign": "attention, now you are in for a surprise!", well, honestly speaking, just like a jubilee cake is to be brought in! But the XX century is already over, and quite a long time ago - and people, who were born and grew up then, and learned to make a difference between the dull things and not dull ones, they come forward to offer us their LATEST VERSION OF WHAT TODAY IS CONSIDERED A REAL ALTERNATIVE TO MUSICAL BOREDOM. But you should not immediately start thinking of the First of April or the Thirty-first of March-October - it is a normal, viable and well-planned and brilliantly realized project, which is not meant for a single consumption on a holiday. You only have to understand right: BOREDOM - IS NOT WHEN A SYMPHONY LASTS FOR ONE HOUR AND TWENTY-TWO MINUTES and does not fit onto one CD! No, it is when an exquisite, expensive and ingenious pleasure grows into a habit, is included in the timetable and inevitably bores. After that everyone does not care about anything:) But it is with that (though, generally speaking, the described events may seem to many "the lot of a musical art in our time ", while this lot is as capricious as a bird and you won't avoid it) - it is with it that those five nice young men in tail-coats can cope and fight, and, at least so far, have been able to win this battle, those young men about who it was once said and sung - as we understand now, don't we? :) the following- LET SUCCESS BE CAPRICIOUS, IT CHOOSES THOSE, WHO CAN BE THE FIRST TO LAUGH AT THEMSELVES!

Artem Vargaftik, a music critic and a TV-host. The winner of the Russian TV Award "TEFI" (2003, 2004).


© 2010 Lena Fainberg
© 2010 Bonquinton,