Gidon Kremer and Schnittke

Category: Music

Last night I went to a chamber music performance at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. The performance was with members of Gidon Kremer's Kremerata Musica. The program included Yulia Korpacheva, soprano;Wendy Warner,cello, and Andrius Zlabys, piano, as well as Gidon on violin. The performance program included Postludio DSCH by Valentin Sivestrov, Piano Trio No.1, Piano Sonata No.1, and Seven Verses for Soprano, Violin, Cello and Piano by Schostakovich, the feature was Schnittke's Sonata No.2 for Violin and Piano. Korpacheva is a world class classical trained vocalist, and Warner is fast becoming a leading cellist, recently performing Brahm's Double Concerto for Violin and Cello with Anne-Marie Mutter in France. Zlabys in the upcoming years will become a world class pianist in his own right, currently he accompanies Gidon on his recital tour.

The difference between listening at home and listening and watching a live concert, is not so much the aural aspect but the visual. It makes sense, that music making is a visual event as well as aural. The performers expressions and emotional feel for the music is self evident. But it is this very act of performance that somehow transcends them and beckons and tugs at you the listener(performee?). The performance asks from you a response, what that response is depends on the music itself.

And for that reason, the Gidon Kremer's performance of Schnittke's Sonata No.2 for Violin and Piano was shattering experience. The performance asked for a response to the music, and to describe the experience, words will not work, it was existential. It is like describing love, you know what it is when you feel it but it is too hard describe, even metaphors and allegory will not suffice, even Shakespeare will not help. The closest I can humbly come up with is that it transcends the immediate and humanly, yet touches the human deeply. I felt intoxicated.

The music itself, dissonant, disjointed, no melody, harmony is mostly atonal. But the performance......Gidon has to be in good physical shape to play it, because he stomps the music out. A 15 minute romp into an existential frenzy. It was worldly but at the same time otherworldly. Most people would say contemporary classical music is amusical. They are wrong. Give me MORE!!!
I too am a huge Gidon Kremer fan. If classical music is to survive it needs more people like him, musicians just as commited to the new repertoire as the classics. Other musicians in this mold that I admire are Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano and Christian Tetzlaff, violin.

If you haven't already, you should check out Kremer's recording of the Schnittke Violin Concerto #4 on Teldec. The CD also includes a nice arrangement of the Stravinsky Pastorale with the violin in place of the usual soprano voice.

If you want to head town I-95 from Philadelphia to Baltimore; from Jan 29-31 Kremer will be playing Sibelius with Temirkanov and the Baltimore Symphony. Mahler #1 is also on the program..

Not part of my subscription, but I did get decent tickets for the thursday concert when I traded in tickets for a concert I missed while in Vegas for CES..
I know exactly what you mean. Schnittke's Second Sonata for Violin and Piano "quasi una sonata" is my very favorite piece of classical music. Audiogoners who like modern, abstract, classical music should give it a try.

Once you get past the dissonances and the seemingly fragmented construction, you will hear a piece of great beauty, violence, and humor! I've heard most versions, except the one on the Bridge label. My favorite is BIS 527 performed by Roland Pontinen and Ulf Wallin.

Has anyone ever heard Toru Takemitsu's "The Dorian Horizon"?
Although not live and therefore second best, I also love the Kremer recording of the Schnittke Violin Concertos 2 & 3 on Teldec. The sound is so clear and resolute that the emotional impact is kept alive, and you can almost see the performers.