These recordings from Kremer’s long-distant Soviet years were
made for radio broadcast use. Audiences are present – sometimes
unmistakably so. They have been licensed to Brilliant Classics
by Gostelradiofund. They bear out Kremer’s repute as an artist
who drives the priests of convention and received wisdom from
the temple. They are as vivid as fear and as sharply etched
as a smashed pane. His Prokofiev Sonata No. 1 combines a raw
and rasping grip with real tenderness of touch and tenderness.
There is some extraordinarily delicate and quiet playing from
Oleg Maisenberg and Kremer; this is magnificent in the skeletal
third movement. Kremer and Yuri Smirnov almost makes you forget
the orchestral witchery of the First Violin Concerto. Kremer
is joined by Tatiana Grindenko (Kremer’s wife) in the black
seduction of the Sonata for Two Violins. Kupkovic’s Souvenir
(1971) is a really toothsome little miniature, redolent of Sibelius’s
Humoresques with a dash or two of Kreisler and circus
Karayev has been recorded by Naxos,
Revelation and Azerbaijan
International. Russian Disc has also recorded his delightfully
imaginative ballet scores as has Delos on DRD 2009. His Violin
Concerto has grown on me since I first reviewed
it in 1999. It is a work of Bergian dissonance that in its textures
is tissuey yet overwhelmingly intense and romantic in the manner
of the Walton, Schuman and Frankel concertos. In the finale
it blitzes along with jagged, blood-curdling energy. His 1965
Third Symphony is reportedly dissonant. There are at least three
recordings including the Naxos. There is also a Melodiya LP
of his World War II First Symphony (1943) but the Second (1946)
awaits its first recording. It would be good to hear and appraise
these two works.
Vadim Salmanov is best known for his four symphonies recorded
His Second Violin Sonata is from 1962. The music gives the impression
of having been stropped to an excoriating razor edge. The final
Presto has the eldritch, wildly sprayed corrosive acid of a
Prokofiev scherzo … and then some: jazz and sulphuric acid.
Kremer is well suited to Schoenberg’s dissonant Fantasy op.
47 in all its rasping drama and mercurial waywardness. The notes
tell us that the Fantasy was written in Los Angeles. Webern’s
four super-short wispy miniatures are delicate yet murderous
waifs. CD2 ends with some Stockhausen: seven of the twelve movements
entitled Tierkreis or Zodiac. It’s for two violins
and is music of the finest filigree thread with distinct Japanese
twists and turns. Fleeting moments suggest a link with Hovhaness.
The last disc sets out two works of substance and ambition.
Vladimir Martynov was initially something of an avant-gardista.
He wrote a rock opera St Francis of Assisi for his rock
group Boomerang! After studying the folk music of the Caucasus,
exploring Russian Orthodox chant and researching theology and
philosophy his music underwent a Damascene conversion. Thus
his 1988 Come in! is a six-movement half-hour violin
concerto. The strings and the violin contemplate beauty in tones
very redolent of the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Add to this
sparse and completely consonant punctuation from celesta and
percussion. One may occasionally think of Pachelbel’s Canon
and the prayerfully meditative aspects of Bruch No. 1. Again
an audience is obviously present and its applause is preceded
by spoken words - what I take to be the “Come in!” signalling
the end of the work. As for the title it can be found in the
words of Ioann Lestvichnik. It refers to the voice behind the
door at the peak of the stairway to Heaven inviting the pilgrim
soul to enter.
We know Lourié from another Brilliant
Classics disc. His Concerto da Camera dates from
his American years; he went there in 1941. It was his last orchestral
work. It is played here by a German orchestra. Again it is in
six movements. The music certainly has a chamber feel but other
impressions crowd in: Schnittke’s aggressive neo-baroque and
Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, There’s a tender Intermezzo.
The violin’s voice is piercingly immediate and keen as a razor
when it is not caught in rapt contemplation. Hunted tension
and drama come into play in the Epilogo. It all ends
controversially in a baritonal murmur from the strings.
These three discs equate to CDs 7-9 from the 10-disc Brilliant
Classics Kremer survey (8712).
The rather wonderful adorning notes are by Ates Orga – a Prince
among writers about music. Here he is very much on form.
This is an intriguing and often refreshingly provocative collection.
Full track listing
Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor Op. 80 [30:00]
Scherzo, vivacissimo, from Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major
Op. 19 (transcription for violin and piano) [4:05]
Sonata for Two Violins in C major Op. 56 [16:14]
Ladislav KUPKOVIC (b.1936) Souvenir [4:23]
Kara KARAYEV (1918-1982) Concerto for Violin and
Vadim SALMANOV (1912-1978) Sonata for Violin and
Piano No. 2 [14:18]
Arnold SCHOENBERG Fantasy for Violin and Piano. [7:45]
Anton WEBERN Four Pieces Op. 7 1910 [4:26]
Karl-Heinz STOCKHAUSEN Tierkreis excerpts (Aquarius,
Gemini, Pisces, Libra, Sagittarius,
Leo, Aquarius) [9:03]
Vladimir MARTYNOV (b.1946) Come in! for
violin and ensemble [30:34]
Arthur-Vincent LOURIÉ (1892-1996) Concerto
da Camera for Violin and String Orchestra [30:04]