Kremerata Baltica, Gidon Kremer
Kremerata Baltica are back at the Baltic Sea Festival
Aug 26: Gidon Kremer & Kremerata Baltica
Gidon Kremer celebrates his 75th birthday and the ensemble Kremerata Baltica their 25th anniversary as they return to the Baltic Sea Festival with music by Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian composers. This year, in celebration of the Baltic Festival’s 20th anniversary, they will also perform After Schubert, new arrangements for violin and orchestra of songs from Schubert’s Winterreise.
GIDON KREMER & KREMERATA BALTICABerwaldhallen
Kremerata Baltica and its leader Gidon Kremer – who has celebrated his 75th birthday – performed at the very first Baltic Sea Festival in 2002. The ensemble celebrates 25 successful years together. They now return for Festival’s 20th anniversary with music by four generations of Baltic and Russian composers in which the highlight is a new orchestral cycle entitled Eine (andere) Winterreise, commissioned especially for the Kremerata Baltica anniversary. It consists of five works by five composers from Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.Read more
The concert opens with one of the best-known concert pieces of the 20th century – Arvo Pärt’s Fratres. The original version from 1977 was written for optional instrumentation. Pärt and other composers have subsequently written many arrangements and reinterpretations. Pärt wrote the second version himself in 1980 for Gidon Kremer and the pianist Elena Bashkirova. Three years later, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Neeme Järvi performed yet another version for string orchestra and percussion. This concert is a version from 1992 in which Pärt has combined the virtuoso solo violin part from the 1980 version with the orchestral movement from 1983. According to Pärt, the combination of frenzy and serenity expresses “the never-ending struggle between the present and eternity”.
The chamber orchestra piece Lignum was written especially for Kremerata Baltica, who premiered it in 2017 at the opening concert of the annual Riga Jurmala Music Festival. Jēkabs Jančevskis describes the work – whose title means “wood” in Latin – as a conversation with trees: “It’s not so much about verbal communication as about wanting to listen, discover and understand. In this work, I reflect on the way the treetops cast their shadows, the way they speak and how they breathe, how they become silent.”
Arturs Maskats composed Pusnakts Rīgā (Midnight in Riga) as a tribute to Jānis and Johanna Lipke, a Latvian couple who saved some forty Jews during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania during World War II. Jānis and Johanna were able to hide them and eventually bring them to safety due to cunning, a great deal of effort and opportunities offered by Jānis’s job. Maskats describes the work as ”a tribute to Jānis and Johanna’s love for each other before it was tested by the atrocities committed during World War II. It is also a tribute to our parents and their parents, their dreams and hopes”. Pusnakts Rīgā is like a violin concerto with Gidon Kremer himself as the soloist. The solo cello part is also prominent in the work, and the strings are supported by a vibraphone. Arturs Maskats evokes a contemplative and enchanting mood. “Riga is my hometown in the world, and midnight there is always a special time,” says the composer.
The cycle of works entitled Eine (andere) Winterreise was commissioned by Gidon Kremer to mark Kremerata Baltica’s 25th anniversary in 2022. The ensemble was founded as a hothouse for talented young musicians from the Baltic States. Their first concert was at Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival in Austria. Like Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, Kremerata Baltica are renowned for their outstanding, captivating musicianship.
Five composers, all closely connected to Kremerata Baltica and Gidon Kremer, have composed reflections on the songs of Franz Schubert’s classic song cycle Winterreise. Best known among them to the Berwaldhallen audience is probably Raminta Šerkšnytė; her orchestral piece De profundis was performed at last year’s Baltic Sea Festival. Georgijs Osokins is an acclaimed young Latvian pianist and composer. Alexander Raskatov, Victor Kissine and Leonid Desyatnikov are three Russian composers of international renown.
With titles that refer to songs from the Winterreise, the five works form a contemporary answer to Schubert’s almost two-hundred-year-old signature work. But the project also reflects Gidon Kremer’s desire to promote musicians and composers from around the Baltic Sea. Each individual work is linked to form a coherent whole by means of a fragment from Franz Schubert’s Minuet No. 3 from the D.89 collection of ten dances. The cycle premiered in April 2022 and is here performed for the first time in Sweden.
Text: David Saulesco
Founded in 1997 by renowned violinist Gidon Kremer, the Grammy-Award winning chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica is considered to be one of Europe’s most prominent international ensembles. Maestro Kremer intentionally selected young, enthusiastic musicians to stave off the dreaded “orchestritis” that afflicts many professional orchestral players. Essential to Kremerata Baltica’s artistic personality is its creative approach to programming, which often ranges beyond the mainstream and has given rise to world premieres of works by composers such as Arvo Pärt, Giya Kancheli, Pēteris Vasks, Leonid Desyatnikov and Alexander Raskatov.
Since its establishment Kremerata Baltica has played in more than 50 countries, performing in 600 cities and giving more than 1000 concerts worldwide. The orchestra’s wide-ranging and carefully chosen repertoire is also showcased in its numerous and much-praised recordings. Its album of works by Mieczysław Weinberg on ECM was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award, its recording of Shostakovich’s piano concertos with Anna Vinnitskaya won the ECHO Klassik 2016. The recording of Weinberg’s symphonies No. 2 and No. 21, a joined adventure with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, received a Gramophone Award in 2020.
The Kremerata Baltica also serves as a medium to share Gidon Kremer’s rich artistic experience with the new generation and, at the same time, to promote and inspire the musical and cultural life of the Baltics.
Gidon Kremer conductor, violin
Driven by his strikingly uncompromising artistic philosophy, Gidon Kremer has established a worldwide reputation as one of his generation’s most original and compelling artists.
His repertoire encompasses standard classical scores and music by leading twentieth and twenty-first century composers. He has championed the works of Russian and Eastern European composers and performed many important new compositions, several of which have been dedicated to him. His name is closely associated with such composers as Alfred Schnittke, Arvo Pärt, Giya Kancheli, Sofia Gubaidulina, Valentin Silvestrov, Luigi Nono, Edison Denisov, Aribert Reimann, Pēteris Vasks, John Adams, Victor Kissine, Michael Nyman, Philip Glass, Leonid Desyatnikov and Astor Piazzolla, whose works he performs in ways that respect tradition while being fully alive to their freshness and originality. It is fair to say that no other soloist of comparable international stature has done more to promote the cause of contemporary composers and new music for violin.
Gidon Kremer has recorded over 120 albums, many of which have received prestigious international awards in recognition of their exceptional interpretative insights. His long list of honours and awards include the Ernst von Siemens Musikpreis, the Bundesverdienstkreuz, Moscow’s Triumph Prize, the Unesco Prize and the Una Vita Nella Musica – Artur Rubinstein Prize. In 2016 Gidon Kremer has received a Praemium Imperiale prize that is widely considered to be the Nobel Prize of music.
In 1997 Gidon Kremer founded the chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica to foster outstanding young musicians from the Baltic States. The ensemble tours extensively and has recorded almost 30 albums for the Nonesuch, Deutsche Grammophon, ECM labels. In 2016/17 Kremerata Baltica was on landmark tours through Middle East, North America, Europe, and Asia to celebrate the orchestra’s 20th anniversary.
His commitment to the “discovery” of the composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg, for which Kremer has rendered particularly outstanding services in recent years, should also be emphasized. In 2019 and 2021, Deutsche Grammophon and Accentus Music released albums recorded by and with Gidon Kremer with orchestral and chamber music works by Weinberg.
ARVO PÄRT: Fratres
JĒKABS JANCEVSKIS: Lignum
ARTUR MASKATS: Midnight in Riga
Giedre Dirvanauskaite, cello
Andrei Pushkarev, percussion
EINE (ANDERE) WINTERREISE (after Franz Schubert) The cycle of pieces below initiated by Gidon Kremer and composed for Kremerata Baltica’s 25th anniversary:
RAMINTA ŠERKŠNYTĖ: Winternacht for violin and string orchestra
ALEXANDER RASKATOV: Schubert – Idillio for violin, percussion and string orchestra
VICTOR KISSINE: Frühlingstraum for violin and string
GEORGIJS OSOKINS: Auf dem Flusse for violin and string orchestra
lEONID DESYATNIKOV: Wie der (alte) Leiermann… for violin and string orchestra
FRANZ SCHUBERT: Fragments of Menuet No 3 will be performed in between the above pieces.