Gidon Kremer, Violin, with the Kremerata Musica
Performed at Carnegie Recital Hall
881 Seventh Avenue
NY, NY 10019
by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
October 31, 2002
Gidon Kremer was born in Riga, Latvia, and began studying the violin at the age of four with his father and grandfather. He won many prestigious awards as a youth, including the 1967 Queen Elizabeth Competition. Mr. Kremer has appeared on every major concert stage with all the leading orchestras of the United States and Europe. He has collaborated with the most famous Conductors, such as Leonard Bernstein, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, and James Levine. Mr. Kremer's repertoire is extensive, including a comprehensive list of classical and romantic violin works, as well as works by 20th Century Composers. He has brought contemporary music, such as that of Astor Piazzolla, to audiences in a way that suspends the listener in the space of his Guanerius del Gesù, "ex-David", dated 1730. Mr. Kremer has also authored three books, published in German.
The Kremerata Musica Ensemble includes members of Gidon Kremer's world-renowned chamber orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, formed in 1997. This orchestra has no permanent city and performs about 60 concerts in six annual tours throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Watch for a coming review of Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra performing Eight Seasons, featuring the seasons cycles of Vivaldi and Piazzolla, combined, on the Nonesuch label.
This review of Last Round, based on the music of Argentinean Composer, Astor Piazzolla, will be but one feature or review (See coming performance review and interview of Daniel Binelli and Polly Ferman) among many, of the various musical and Modern or Tango performance interpretations (See Parsons Review, Tango Oficina) of Astor Piazzolla's intoxicating and evocative music
Last Round (1996): Composed by Osvaldo Golijov, Performed on violin by Gidon Kremer, Eva Bindere, Andrei Valigura, and Maria Nemanyte, on viola by Ula Ulijona and Daniil Grishin, on cello by Marta Sudraba and Eriks Kirsfelds, and on bass by Indrek Sarrap.
Argentine Composer, Osvaldo Golijov studied at the Rubin Academy in Jeruselem and at Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Sienna. Mr. Golijov has an earned Doctorate Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Golijov has recently been exploring his roots, through Jewish folk traditions and Argentine Tango music. Mr. Golijov was born in La Plata, Argentina, and now lives in Newton, Massachusetts. He is currently composer-in-residence for the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Golijov says, with reference to Last Round, "Astor Piazzolla, the last great Tango composer, was at the peak of his creativity, when a stroke killed him ten years ago. He left us, in the words of the old tango, without saying goodbye, and on that day the musical face of Buenos Aires was abruptly frozen." (Carnegie Hall Liner Notes) Last Round is a title borrowed from a story on boxing by Julio Cortázar. It is conceived "as an imaginary chance for Piazzolla's spirit to fight one more time". (Liner Notes) The entire piece is played as an idealized bandoneón, with the first movement, (Last Round - movido, urgente) representing the violent compression of the instrument, and the second movement, (Muertes del angel - Lentisimo) representing "a final, seemingly endless opening sigh" (Liner Notes), which is based on Carlos Gardel's My Beloved Buenos Aires, composed in the 1930's. (See more Gardel interpretations in the Rattlestick Theater Review.) Last Round is also seen by Golijov as a sublimated Tango dance. He sees flying violin bows as flying legs in the air, with the bass as the focal instrument. As Tangueros are always in the process of attracting and repelling each other, through the metaphoric dance, in danger of clashing, the bows of the smaller stringed instruments, as in traditional Tango orchestras, stand up straight. For Golijov, this piece transforms "hot passion into pure pattern". (Liner Notes)
For this listener, the bass, as superbly played by Indrek Sarrap, was the soul of this piece. I heard my favorite Piazzolla themes, so magnificently interwoven by Golijov, and so expertly presented, thanks to Mr. Kremer. But, the bass was the swelling and sighing of the bandoneón, and it was the bass that attempted to fight one last time in the Last Round. The Kremerata Musica is a highly professional chamber ensemble, with many young performers, each of whom could hold their own on the stage of Carnegie Recital Hall. Together with Mr. Kremer, they achieved the effect of transporting me to a Saturday night Milonga, with the characteristic passion and pathos of the Tangueros on and off the dance floor. The poised Marta Sudraba on cello delivered a particularly sensitive performance. However, always in the lead, Mr. Kremer's entire body swelled with Piazzolla's themes, inherent in the Golijov piece, as his violin pulsated with percussive and gut-wrenching ochos, boléos, and gonchos. Mr. Kremer's violin seemed to be the Tanguero, with the ensemble as the Tanguera, who follows in close embrace, with the exception of the bass, as the bandoneón. I look forward to a trip to Tower Records to find a CD of Osvaldo Golijov's Last Round. I also look forward to listening to the new Nonesuch CD's of further interpretations by Gidon Kremer of Astor Piazzolla's music.