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Kremerata Baltica: Shostakovich and After

- Classical and Cultural Connections

Kremerata Baltica

Shostakovich and After
Gidon Kremer, Artistic Director and Solo Violinist
(Gidon Kremer Bio)
Yulia Korpacheva, Soprano
Fedor Kuznetsov, Baritone

Carnegie Hall
(Carnegie Hall Website)
Raechel Alexander, Manager, Public Affairs


Dmitri Shostakovich: Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op 134 (1968) (arr. for string orchestra by Michail Zinman and Andrei Pushkarev): Andante, Allegretto, Largo-Andante, Gidon Kremer Violin.

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975): Chamber Symphony, Op 110a (1960) (arr. for string orchestra by Abram Stassevich from String Quartet No. 8): Largo, Allegro Molto, Allegretto, Largo, Largo.

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 14, Op 135 (1969): De profundis, Malagueña, Lorelei, The Suicide, On Watch, Madam, Look!, In Prison, The Zaporohian Cossacks, O Delvig, Delvig, The Death of the Poet, Conclusion, Yulia Korpacheva, Soprano, Fedor Kuznetsov, Baritone.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 20, 2004

(Read another review of Kremerata Baltica and Shostakovich). The black gowns and black suits of this striking orchestral ensemble are stunning in this setting, and Isaac Stern Auditorium was packed with fans of Shostakovich and fans of Kremerata Baltica. Gidon Kremer was highlighted as soloist for the Sonata, now chamber ensemble piece. I imagined the piano passages and violin solos, now played for this new arrangement. Kremer’s violin could literally sound like a cello, as well, eery, solemn, and flowing.

Clicking effects on the wooden instruments added percussive dimension. The clock-like staccatos made me think of the ballet score potential of this atonal work. Mr. Kremer plucked the strings of his 1730 Guarnerius del Gesù, “ex-David” with tiny reverberations among the basses. This conversation melted into a wrenching melody, with Mr. Kremer always showcased. A stormy finale to muted timpani brought together a full compliment of strings, as the solos vanished into brilliant orchestral cohesion.

This Chamber Symphony with five movements was performed as one unit. Mr. Kremer sat with his orchestra, as sparkling, sonorous violas were joined by the vivacious violins. One could imagine a dance of the Cossacks. A significant element of this work is the performance of an entire group of strings, such as violins or cellos, all playing one single note, suspended in space. The second Largo ended in a whisper, in contrast to the middle movements of whirling Ukrainian motifs.

Symphony No. 14, by Shostakovich, is dreadfully depressing, but lovely to hear. It is a compilation of eleven poems by Federico García Lorca, Guillaume Apollinaire, Wilhelm Küchelbeker, and Rainer Maria Rilke. The poems have been translated into Russian and relate to death, suicide, passion, unrequited love, cemeteries, loss, deep rivers, murder, incest, armies, butchers, and prisons.

However, sung by Yulia Korpacheva and Fedor Kuznetsov, the eleven poems, with orchestral accompaniment and orchestral solos, are mesmerizing and magical. The depths of Mr. Kuznetsov’s lowest notes seemed to signify the depths of emotion and the yearnings of the human condition. The basses took on dark, marching movement of sound and rhythm, and racing strings could have been galloping steeds or death entering the tavern.

Sounds of chimes seemed to end or begin new poems, but this structure was not clear. Ms. Korpacheva’s duet with a cello was as stunning as her bright purple gown. She seemed to be able to evoke the sensation of screaming in terror, but with melodic tones and breathless pathos. The mood of these eleven poems remained the same, but volume and tempo varied dramatically, sometimes even moment to moment. Silence created musical space for its own purpose. Prolonged passages of tiny rhythmic effects were foreboding and ominous, as the audience read the transcriptions of these disturbing lyrics. Impending death and tormented souls were well symbolized in the theatrical qualities of Ms. Korpacheva, Mr. Kuznetsov, and Mr. Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica. Kudos to all.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at