To mark a current moment of a chamber ensemble in their prime and, for all that in the act of performing a repertoire, which they excellently understand and love very much – is already a remarkable achievement. If you add thereto the fact that the whole project is taking place here and now, and that it was indeed crowned with a CD release from the sphere of high art, it makes all this even more amazing and miraculous at the same time. Because, releasing an album with refined interpretations of Beethoven’s and Brahms’s musical pieces, means for the Belgrade Philharmonic String Quartet much more – a discography unit of integrity, and another step for even more serious projects of theirs, but also an archway for a whole community of listeners of classical music, especially for lovers of the chamber volume. To add to this the presence of Ognjen Popović, whose clarinet we cannot simply forget here. For that reason, you should grab this CD, as soon as possible, any way you can and know how.
The released recording consisting of Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 74 in E flat Major, (Harp) and Johannes Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet Op. 115 in B minor, demonstrates at the very beginning, the decency of the choice made. And indeed, what pleasure to hear such zest and energy, emotional complexity and thoughtfulness, heroism and melancholy electrified by flames of longing, unquestioning virtuosity and the most delicate feelings, all that in somewhat more than an hour of perfectly packed artistic practice. However, for those who have had the pleasure of listening to this precious ensemble live, there is that unique living breath which adorns their performance, and which we cannot fail to recognize here! Therefore, not only the sound – this CD has also captured the motion, the breathing of each quartet member, their glances, their recognition of artistic intentions, their team drive … We could, by listening to their recording, see them once again on the stage and enjoy their dedication and gold pristine ideals.
The Belgrade Philharmonic String Quartet (Jelena Dragnić – first violin, Vladan Lončar – second violin, Boris Brezovac – viola, Aleksandar Latković – cello), play their introductory Beethoven with so much of that simple sincerity and purity possessed by the wizard Beethoven, that their superior walk through this beautiful musical piece permeates from the first. A kind of sparkling suppleness of rhythm, an atmosphere of joy adorned in special colours and unearthly contemplation, added here with so much taste, lights up already in the first couple of movements. However, what is yet to follow is an explosion of heroism, an emanation of almost orchestral power of only four quartet instruments, but just what kind of instruments! After that follows light-heartedness amid the vigour demonstrated so clearly, in other words, blazing temperaments capable of converting the sweetness of imagination into a booming diligence without more ado.
What follows is Brahms, touched by the unsurpassable warmth and wisdom of the presence of Ognjen Popović, to open a landscape of delicate tonal splendour. There is a refined collective spirit here, roaming through stylish scenes in addition to a mixture of so many subtle emotions, of such preciseness of pulse, forming a bewildering structure of completely modern sensibility, halfway between the cosmic quivering of strings and the truly wonderful serenity of the clarinet. The lovely playfulness of five instruments plunders, turning outright into a dramatic expression sparkling with diamonds in abundance. Perfectly “cool” for this summer, seriously.
– Zorica Kojić