Vladimir & Anton Jablokov are brothers who share a rare gift – mastery of the classical violin. These Slovakian virtuosi have been competing against each other ever since they were children.
“Our Dad would say to us ‘Fight each other all you like, just make sure you put the violins down first’…”
Having played together for over twenty years now, Vladimir & Anton have learned to channel their sibling rivalry into emotionally charged and technically breath-taking performances. The brothers now have their father’s full permission to duel with their violins in hand and their debut album Vladimir & Anton Live has captured this harmonious conflict.
As teenagers Vladimir & Anton would sneak away from home, jump on a train from Bratislava to Vienna and busk their hearts out just to get their hands on that precious Euro. They started writing clever arrangements of popular tunes which enabled them to show off their technique and their unique musical connection at the same time.
Vladimir would be known to slip away to the café and watch from afar as his younger brother Anton continued to work hard to entertain the crowds.
“I didn’t need Vladimir as a duet partner anyway – he could never keep up with me…” Anton recalls with a wry smile.
When Vladimir left home dreaming of a life of salmon fishing in Ireland, it was Anton who insisted his brother took his violin with him just in case.
“Anton knows me better than anyone – he knew that I had to fulfil this mad dream of mine. But he also knew music was my anchor”
Dublin life proved to be somewhat less romantic for Vladimir who quickly found himself busking on Grafton Street to make ends meet. From these meagre beginnings, Vladimir established himself as one of the brightest young stars on the Irish classical scene.
On the other side of the continent, Anton went on to complete a Masters degree with Honours at the acclaimed Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana. He is currently studying for a solo diploma in Performance.
During breaks from his Swiss studies, Anton visited Vladimir in Ireland, and they ventured out on the road together as Two Brothers, focusing on repertoire that celebrated their musical heritage. Irish audiences quickly warmed to the almost telepathic understanding that the duo enjoy, and the decision was taken to make a live album, which would capture the energy and creative tension of their chemistry.
While researching their family ancestry, Vladimir and Anton learned more about about a very special wandering minstrel. So not only is this album the soundtrack to their own relationship, it is also a personal tribute to their Russian grandfather, Nikolaj Jablokov.
“He died before we were born but our grandfather’s spirit is in both of us – without it we would not have had this crazy desire to leave Bratislava in the first place. We inherited from him the need to travel and to entertain people with whatever music they want to hear. We don’t always fit into the classical music world because of our free spirit”
Nikolaj Jablokov was born in Moscow in 1925, and grew up to be a gifted multi-instrumentalist. He was a professional violinist who also mastered the accordion, mandolin and banjo. He loved to travel and explore new cultures; to meet new people and to hear and to play their music. Right up until his death travelling alone with his violin in Siberia, his nomadic personality could never be suppressed. Nicolaj was both a master of the symphonic stage and of the campfire concerto.
The many stories about their grandfather made a big impression on both children; it kick-started a competitive thirst to travel the world more, to learn more languages, to be the better player, and to play music that would delight and entertain their ever-growing audience.