The Strad Issue: January 2009
Musicians: Gidon Kremer (violin/director) Kremerata Baltica
Gidon Kremer’s view of Mozart’s concertos is decidedly spiritoso, with some delightful affettuoso along the way. He and his beloved Kremerata Baltica are very much a double act, bandying phrases back and forth, moving to centre stage and back again, almost literally in the Andante of the Second Concerto, where Kremer follows the opening tutti like a small voice at the back asking if he can join in. Textures are clear and inner parts often vivid. Kremer plays with warmth and grace, and occasional interjections of a more virtuoso heft. There are moments when he slips over into mannerism: he likes dramatic alternations of forte and piano and plays with considerable freedom of rhythmic expression, both of which can be a bit overcooked sometimes, as in the Adagio of the Fifth Concerto where his hiatus before the sudden forte in the opening tutti and on all subsequent occasions becomes wearisome, like a re-told joke. His adjustments of tempo in the first movement are also overly fussy. But these are tremendously fresh and enjoyable performances.
Kremer can be one of the most graceful of players, treating melody and passagework alike with an easy lyricism and touches of wit. In the opening Allegro of the Third Concerto he plays with a creamy sound, often rounding out phrases where others prefer a more biting staccato, and in places sounds almost conversational. They all have a great time in the Turkish music of the Fifth, with Kremer as much gypsy as Turk. The sound is clear and warm.