A highly personal programme offers a typically searing experience

Gidon Kremer: Songs of Fate


The Strad Issue: March 2024

Description: A highly personal programme offers a typically searing experience

Musicians: Vida Miknevičiutė (soprano) Nagdalena Ceple (cello) Andrei Pushkarev (vibraphone) Kremerata Baltica/Gidon Kremer (violin)

Works: Jančevskis: Lignum. Kuprevičius: Chamber Symphony ‘The Star of David’: David’s Lamentation, Postlude: The Luminous Lament; Kaddish-Prelude; Penultimate Kaddish. Šerkšnyté: This too shall pass. Weinberg: Nocturne; Aria op.9; Jewish Songs op.13: nos.2, 4 and 5; Kujawiak

Catalogue number: ECM 4859850

Gidon Kremer has compiled an eloquent evocation and celebration of his Jewish heritage in an eclectic programme of music written since 1942. His choices offer stylistic variety and timbral diversity, but naturally much of the sentiment is melancholic and searching. Kremer ensures every violin note is vivid; his musical voice whispers and shouts, depicts fury and repose, weeping and sighing. He imbues a wide range of emotion with compelling character. Alongside his artistry, the soprano Vida Miknevičiutė is mesmerising, and Kremerata Baltica is beautifully honed, imbuing everything with great atmosphere.

The opening and closing tracks are hauntingly otherworldly – Šerkšnyté’s This too shall pass being exquisitely ethereal, while Jančevskis’s Lignum is contemplative, using microtones with a sort of blended tonality. Kuprevičius’s Kaddishes are captivating, their musical invention burnished with sadness. A dialogue between violin and percussion in the Kaddish-Prelude is particularly intimate and searching. In the Postlude from the Chamber Symphony the soprano and violin lines intertwine with a controlled yet piquant anguish.

It is largely thanks to Kremer’s staunch espousal that Weinberg has now come into his own as a composer. Here the early Nocturne and Kujawiak are utterly beguiling, conveying perhaps an understated expressiveness and a recessed sadness. Kremer has sourced some poignant and beautiful works to frame his personal journey and, in this warmly engineered recording, portrays them with insight and nuance.