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Gidon Kremer|Weinberg: Sonatas for Violin Solo

Weinberg: Sonatas for Violin Solo

Gidon Kremer

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Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer’s repertoire is so very wide and varied, and his collaborations so very generous, creative and non-standard – not least thanks to his championing of contemporary Russian and Eastern European composers – that there will have been any number of attention-grabbing programmes up his sleeve that would have done the job of marking his 75th birthday in the recording studio.

However his decision to go simply for the three solo violin sonatas of Polish-Jewish composer Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-1996) feels pretty perfect. Most importantly, Kremer has been a key figure in the recent revival of interest in this Moscow-based friend of Shostakovich who found himself and his music repeatedly side-lined by the Soviet authorities, spearheading major projects such as the 2020 Gramophone Award-winning collaboration for Deutsche Grammophon between his own Kremeratica Baltica and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, for Weinberg’s Symphonies No. 2 and No. 21. Also though, there’s something rather emotionally resonant simply about the act of presenting under-recorded repertoire completely solo, given that this Moscow-trained former pupil of David Oistrakh put his own earlier career at risk through his determination to champion composers the Soviet authorities disapproved of, such as Schnittke and Pärt.

Back, though, to Weinberg’s Solo Violin Sonatas. Written in 1964, 1967 and 1979, these are radical, deeply expressive, immensely technically demanding works, in the spirit of Bach while containing whispers of folk and Jewish music, that Kremer himself ranks alongside Bartók’s Solo Sonata for their challenges and rewards; and the readings we have here – vividly captured at Kremer’s own Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival and at Studio Residence Palesius, Lithuania – exude intimate knowledge of both the notes on the score, and the cultural background behind them.

The defiant First Sonata dazzles the ear for its compelling human voice as much for its dizzying virtuosity, Kremer spicing his silky technical perfection with fabulous rough-edged texture. Likewise, the Second Sonata’s succession of almost character pieces feel imbued with subtext, as Kremer offers up a huge sweep of tonal and emotional colour. Take the delicately voiced Accompaniment (No. 5) with its conversation between the violin’s wispily delicate upper registers and its darker, broader lower reaches, arco and pizzicato playing off each other to brilliant effect; then the wide, defiant, elegiac long lines of the ensuing Invocation.

These surely shoot to the top of the pile as the obvious go-to recording for these powerful works. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz

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Weinberg: Sonatas for Violin Solo

Gidon Kremer

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1
Weinberg: Sonata No. 3, Op. 126
00:22:24

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Peter Laenger, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

Sonata No. 2, Op. 95 (Mieczysław Weinberg)

2
I. Monody
00:01:28

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

3
II. Rests
00:01:44

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

4
III. Intervals
00:01:58

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

5
IV. Replies
00:02:17

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

6
V. Accompaniment
00:02:41

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

7
VI. Invocation
00:03:47

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

8
VII. Syncopes
00:03:23

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

Sonata No. 1, Op. 82 (Mieczysław Weinberg)

9
I. Adagio-Allegro
00:05:29

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

10
II. Andante
00:05:37

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

11
III. Allegretto
00:03:46

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

12
IV. Lento
00:05:05

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

13
V. Presto
00:05:42

Gidon Kremer, Violin, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christoph Stickel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Mieczysław Weinberg, Composer - Vilius Keras, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aleksandra Kerienė, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 ECM Records GmbH

Album Description

Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer’s repertoire is so very wide and varied, and his collaborations so very generous, creative and non-standard – not least thanks to his championing of contemporary Russian and Eastern European composers – that there will have been any number of attention-grabbing programmes up his sleeve that would have done the job of marking his 75th birthday in the recording studio.

However his decision to go simply for the three solo violin sonatas of Polish-Jewish composer Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-1996) feels pretty perfect. Most importantly, Kremer has been a key figure in the recent revival of interest in this Moscow-based friend of Shostakovich who found himself and his music repeatedly side-lined by the Soviet authorities, spearheading major projects such as the 2020 Gramophone Award-winning collaboration for Deutsche Grammophon between his own Kremeratica Baltica and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, for Weinberg’s Symphonies No. 2 and No. 21. Also though, there’s something rather emotionally resonant simply about the act of presenting under-recorded repertoire completely solo, given that this Moscow-trained former pupil of David Oistrakh put his own earlier career at risk through his determination to champion composers the Soviet authorities disapproved of, such as Schnittke and Pärt.

Back, though, to Weinberg’s Solo Violin Sonatas. Written in 1964, 1967 and 1979, these are radical, deeply expressive, immensely technically demanding works, in the spirit of Bach while containing whispers of folk and Jewish music, that Kremer himself ranks alongside Bartók’s Solo Sonata for their challenges and rewards; and the readings we have here – vividly captured at Kremer’s own Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival and at Studio Residence Palesius, Lithuania – exude intimate knowledge of both the notes on the score, and the cultural background behind them.

The defiant First Sonata dazzles the ear for its compelling human voice as much for its dizzying virtuosity, Kremer spicing his silky technical perfection with fabulous rough-edged texture. Likewise, the Second Sonata’s succession of almost character pieces feel imbued with subtext, as Kremer offers up a huge sweep of tonal and emotional colour. Take the delicately voiced Accompaniment (No. 5) with its conversation between the violin’s wispily delicate upper registers and its darker, broader lower reaches, arco and pizzicato playing off each other to brilliant effect; then the wide, defiant, elegiac long lines of the ensuing Invocation.

These surely shoot to the top of the pile as the obvious go-to recording for these powerful works. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz

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