Gidon Kremer at McCarter

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Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica

McCarter Theatre Center

Friday, February 3, 2017

By Christian Carey

 

PRINCETON – I’ve wanted to hear violinist Gidon Kremer perform Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s iconic work Fratres live since I was a teenager. Back then, Kremer’s rendition of the work on an ECM Records New Series CD was transfixing and game changing: it became an almost totemic art object for me as a composition student. On February 3rd, I got my wish at McCarter Theatre in Princeton. Unlike the recording, here Kremer pushed the proceedings forward, taking a quicker tempo and engaging in more taut phrasing than he did on the CD. The work is still transfixing, but it was moving to hear its story retold in a new way.

 

Kremer and Kremerata Baltica, the chamber orchestra of Eastern European musicians that he leads, have a new ECM CD out, this one of the Chamber Symphonies of Mieczysław Weinberg, late works that sit astride Mahlerian late Romanticism and modernism that is a close cousin to the works of Shostakovich. Clarinetist Mate Bekavac, who also appears on the recording, was a sterling-toned soloist, unwinding breathless phrases and coordinating and blending seamlessly with the strings.

 

The second half of the concert had an interested concept that provided a bit of dramatic flair. Kremer began it with Tchaikovsky’s Serenade Melancolique, leaving the stage on the last note, which led directly into Kremerata Baltica’s rendition of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. This was resolutely played, but the absence of brass and winds led to some strangely attenuated passages (Andrei Pushkarev, a percussionist, performed formidable gymnastics to reach all of the score’s instruments). At the piece’s conclusion, Kremer returned to the stage, playing Valentin Silvestrov’s solo Serenade nearly attacca.

 

There were yet more surprises to come. Two encores, Stankovich’s Lullaby and Alfred Schnittke’s Polka gave the audience distinct flavors of music-making – one poignant and one buoyant – to send them home.

 

This is Kremer’s seventieth birthday year. To celebrate, he has not only released the Weinberg disc on ECM, but has also recorded Rachmaninov’s Piano Trios and the Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto (available on vinyl!) for DG.

kremer trios

 

glass kremer

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CD of the Week: Kremerata’s Weinberg

Mieczyslaw Weinberg

Gidon Kremer; Kremerata Baltica

ECM New Series 2368/69 (2XCD)

The revival of music by Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996) is provided significant momentum by this double-disc set from ECM. Violinist Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica project prove to be ardent interpreters of Weinberg’s works. The release’s program includes chamber music and compositions for larger ensemble (including the centerpiece, his Tenth Symphony); it provides a fine overview of Weinberg’s aesthetic. He is often compared to Shostakovich, not unduly, as the solo sonata performed searingly here by Kremer attests, but Weinberg is a distinctive figure in his own right who deserves more frequent and prominent placement on concert programs.

You can hear Kremer and Co. performing this music tonight in New York and over the next week in other US cities (dates below).

Kremerata Baltica in Concert


January 30 – New York, NY at 92Y Kaufmann Concert Hall    

http://www.92y.org/Uptown/Event/Kremerata-Baltica.aspx

              

February 2 – San Francisco, CA at Davies Symphony Hall       

http://www.sfsymphony.org/Buy-Tickets/2013-2014/Gidon-Kremer-and-Kremerata-Baltica.aspx

 

February 4 – Houston, TX at Stude Concert Hall       

http://houstonfriendsofchambermusic.org/series/2013-14/Kremerata/

                             

February 6 – Ann Arbor, MI at Hill Auditorium                         

http://tickets.ums.org/single/EventDetail.aspx?p=1653

              

February 7 – Chicago, IL at Harris Theater   

http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/events/2013-2014-season/kremerata-baltica

                             

February 8 – St Paul, MN at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts  

http://schubert.org/concerts/international-artist-series/gidon-kremer-violin-with-kremerata-baltica/