Perspectives: Gidon Kremer – Works of BACH, MOZART, SCHUBERT, SHOSTAKOVICH, BERNSTEIN, PAERT – DGG

by | May 3, 2006 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Perspectives: Gidon Kremer = BACH: Partita No. 3 in  E Major, BWV 1006; Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Major, BWV 1042; SCHUBERT: Deutscher Tanze: 2 Trios, D. 89; MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 “Turkish;” SHOSTAKOVICH: Violin Concerto No. 2 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 129; BERNSTEIN: Serenade for Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion; PAERT: Spiegel im Spiegel

Gidon Kremer, violin and conductor (Bach E Major)/ Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields/ Gabriele Lester, violin (Schubert)/ Diemut Poppen, viola (Schubert)/ Richard Lester, cello (Schubert)/ Naoko Yoshino, harp (Paert)/ Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/ Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Mozart)/ Boston Symphony Orchestra/ Seiji Ozawa (Shostakovich)/ Israel Philharmonic Orchestra/ Leonard Bernstein

DGG B0006461-02,  62:22; 71:13  (Distrib. Universal) ****:

Latvian violin virtuoso Gidon Kremer (b. 1947) finds ample representation in these two reissue discs, embracing his classical and modern music-making 1981-1997. Kremer plays a Guarnerius del Gesu “ex David” instrument dated 1730 with a vibrant, piercing tone. A pupil of David Oistrakh at the Moscow Conservatory, Kremer is no mere clone of that artist’s Romantic style: if anything Kremer tends towards a more severe, chaste projection that we associate with Leonid Kogan, even Heifetz, if we wish to keep our analogies Russian. Kremer’s musical tastes, however, are anything but conservative, extending to Schnittke and Rihm, Bach and Shostakovich, Mozart and Kancheli. This partial assemblage of Kremer’s vast repertory captures some the innately nervous, exciting perception Kremer brings to familiar scores like Bach’s E Major Concerto and Mozart’s “Turkish” Concerto. The 1981 Bach Unaccompanied Partita asserts Kremer’s revisionist tendencies, his vivid yet demure application of color and vibrato. We can savor the brisk attacks he lavishes, along with colleagues Poppen and Lesters in the 1983 renditions of Schubert laendler arranged for string quartet. Acidly Viennese, you might claim.

The more savage aspects of Kremer’s tone projection come across in the intensely realized Shostakovich Concerto No. 2 with Ozawa from 1994 Boston, rife with the DSCH anagram the composer uses in his E-flat Cello Concerto. Wicked dialogues between the violin and bass and snare drums. The lovely but obsessive Adagio is typical of the eerie beauty Kremer often creates. Equally virile, austere, and acerbic is Kremer’s 1979 collaboration with Leonard Bernstein in the Serenade, based on a reading of Plato’s Symposium. When Kremer does play for sweetness, as in the Agathon section, the effect is fragile but strong, the tensile strength that of a spider’s elastic thread. Often, Bersnstein’s writing seems to take its impulse from soli in Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale. The 1997 inscription of Arvo Paert’s Spiegel im Spiegel typifies the avantgarde sound Kremer had cultivated at Lockenhaus (1991-1990); here, a lyrically minimalist texture, with long-held notes, sometimes in harmonics, over the harp’s ostinato riffs. The effects can be striking and plangent.

— Gary Lemco

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