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.
This was one of the first digital version (the very first?) of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto and remains pretty competitive though perhaps not a first choice. Kremer's playing is surely polished and technically impressive; the phrasing is wonderful and the tone beautiful. Still, it is unfortunately a little short on charm and expressive depth - Tchaikovsky's concerto isn't really the most appropriate vehicle neither for classical restraint nor almost curmudgeonly introspective approaches; it is peripatetic grand drama and passion and heart-on-sleeve through and through and despite Kremer's sweetness of tone he never manages to scale the heights or plunge the emotional abysses of the music.
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.
Five-CD limited-edition box set, issued in time for the 30th anniversary of the Austrian chamber-music festival. “Edition Lockenhaus” returns long out-of-print titles to the catalogue, with some of the finest musicians of the New Series, including Gidon Kremer, Kim Kashkashian, Heinz Holliger, Thomas Zehetmair, Thomas Demenga, Robert Levin, Eduard Brunner and many more. Gidon Kremer: “The artistic atmosphere in Lockenhaus soon has everybody speaking on the same wavelength.” The set opens with previously unreleased recordings – from 2001 and 2008 – with Sir Simon Rattle and Roman Kofman conducting Kremerata Baltica in revelatory performances of Richard Strauss’s “Metamorphosen” and Olivier Messiaen’s “Trois petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine”: the committed interpretations convey the spirit of Lockenhaus. Discs two through five focus on music of César Franck, André Caplet, Francis Poulenc, Leos Janácek, Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich and Erwin Schulhoff. Original liner notes, an interview with Kremer, and new texts complete a very special edition.
Kent Nagano and the Hallé continue to commit to CD less celebrated portions of the Britten canon. Last year there was the four-act Billy Budd; before that the premiere recording of a concert version of the radio drama The Rescue. Now come two more firsts, recordings of the Double Concerto - prepared from Britten's almost complete sketches by Colin Matthews and presented by Nagano at Aldeburgh in 1997 - and the Two Portraits from 1930. The second of these is a portrait of Britten himself, a surprisingly plaintive and reflective meditation for viola and strings in E minor. The image is belied by the rest of the music on the disc, which is buoyant, energetic, young man's music all written before Britten was 26. Big guns Kremer and Bashmet are brought in for the Double Concerto and give of their impassioned best. Nagano and the Hallé are appropriately spirited and vigorous throughout the disc. It's not mature Britten, but clearly points the way forward and is worth getting to know.
Leonard Bernstein and the Wiener Philharmoniker perform Brahms orchestral works. Between 1981 and 1984 Leonard Bernstein recorded nearly all of Brahms's orchestral works with the Wiener Philharmoniker to honor the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth in 1983. For the concertos, Bernstein enlisted the services of some of the finest Brahms interpreters of the time: the violoninst Gidon Kremer, the cellist Mischa Maisky and the pianist Krystian Zimerman.