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Gidon Kremer in the Soviet Union - Volume 1
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Variations on Trockne Blüme - arranged Gidon KREMER
Sonata in A
Erlkönig - arranged Heinrich Wilhelm ERNST (1814-1865)
Francesco GEMINIANI (1687-1762)

Sonata in B flat for solo violin
Gidon Kremer (violin)
Oleg Maisenberg (piano)
Recorded in Moscow, 1973
AULOS MUSIC AMC2-036 [54.41]


This is one of two Kremer volumes in the Aulos catalogue. They document Kremer’s early recorded career in the Soviet Union. Volume two charts two sessions five years apart but this one neatly bisects them in time - made in 1973 and with Kremer is an esteemed colleague, Oleg Maisenberg. The repertoire is heavier of weight as well, in comparison with the morceaux and fingerbusting selection available elsewhere and separately reviewed on this site. Still, there is the thorny matter of Kremer’s endemically slow vibrato and pinched tone.

This does matter in Schubert though arguably less so than it does in Brahms. He gets around his own arrangement of the Variations with practised authority and dextrous ability. He responds to the work’s lightly harmonic diversity with acumen but the sound he makes is still unwarmed and it tends toward the monochromatic. There is, to be frank, something chilly and removed about his Schubert playing that becomes more pressingly exemplified in the Sonata where all thoughts of Kreisler-Rachmaninov can be rapidly expunged from the imagination. It’s not so much the lack of any sensuous tonal warmth so much as the lack of ostensible affection for the work.

There are other things here too – notably that meretricious piece of gymnastics, Ernst’s arrangement for solo violin of Erlkönig. This is a piece that, quite rightly, hardly anyone has felt the need to record but now, alas, we can hear Kremer expend ingenuity and dexterity on it. The Geminiani is another example of his interest in the baroque and in solo violin works – he’s not as keen to propagate the solo violin repertoire as, say, Ricci, but he’s not far behind.

Excellent DSD (Direct Stream Digital) remastering of the LP originals brings focus to this disc. Notes are skimpy but all relevant recording track details are present.

Jonathan Woolf

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