A beautifully-recorded album from master violinist Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata, Baltica, spanning a wide range of music, all of it broached with conviction. Hungarian composer and pianist Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer from the Serbian province of Vojvodina has written eight hymns in commemoration of the film director Andrei Tarkovsky, an artist he has called a homo moralis whose remarkable visions cast a small but significant light on the tragic world of the previous century. Georgian composer Giya Kancheli contributes a silent prayer for two of his most important musical associates: the cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich and the violinist Gidon Kremer.
Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer's 2000 release Eight Seasons is a conceptual masterwork. Kremer, long known for his skillful interpretations of Astor Piazzolla's Argentinean tangos, had the brilliant idea of matching four of the Latin master's tone poems of the seasons in his native Buenos Aires with Antonio Vivaldi's conceptually similar masterpiece "The Four Seasons," alternating seasons between the two works. Besides the conceptual perfection of the idea, the performances are exquisite. Kremer and his conservatory orchestra, the Kremerata Baltica, do a particularly masterful job with the Vivaldi, avoiding the ornate bloat that affects so many recordings of this work. Their performances are brisk and to-the-point, with bright tempos that add a vitality not often found in this rather shopworn old standard. As always, Kremer's solos in the Piazzolla works are absolutely superb, with the dramatic flourishes of the massed string section providing startling counterpoint, especially on the breathtaking "Verano Porteno". Eight Seasons is a truly remarkable work by an underrated performer.
Gidon Kremer's technical brilliance, inward but passionate playing, and commitment to both new works and new interpretations of old works have made him one of the most respected violinists in the world today.
Nonesuch Records releases The Art of Instrumentation: Homage to Glenn Gould, by violinist Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra, on September 25, 2012, which would have been Gould’s 80th birthday. The album comprises 11 pieces and arrangements by contemporary composers that quote from or are inspired by works, mostly by Bach, that Gould famously recorded during his career; two Arnold Schoenberg pieces also are drawn upon in one piece.
The New Seasons referred to in the title here are the so-called American Four Seasons, the Violin Concerto No. 2 of Philip Glass, which has even less of a connection to Vivaldi's model than do Astor Piazzolla's Buenos Aires Four Seasons and other works that take Vivaldi as a point of reference. The work is in eight sections, but which ones are supposed to represent which season is left up to the listener. It's really a typical but unusually effective example of late-period Glass, with the composer's usual textures intact but lots of harmonic motion. Part of the interest here lies in hearing Latvian violinist and conductor Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica, long champions of minimalism's Baltic branch, tackle a work by one of the leaders of Western minimalism. The American Four Seasons get a treatment that's a bit rougher than usual, but then Kremer turns around (after a Pärt girls' choir interlude) and delivers pristinely smooth, glassy textures in Giya Kancheli's Ex contrario. The program closes with a fascinating little melody by Japanese rock musician and film composer Shigeru Umebayashi, a daring and effective choice.