Gidon Kremer/Andrei Pushkarev, Wigmore Hall, London
Friday 25 February 2005
Concerts by Gidon Kremer are a rare occurrence, doubly so in the intimate surroundings of a chamber-music hall. It's more than 20 years since he played in the Wigmore, and a more eclectic concert would be hard to imagine. But Kremer is a genius. With only one fellow-musician, a percussionist, he gave a concert about which grandchildren will be told.
Perhaps it was the unlikely combination of violin and percussion that kept the hordes away - there were a few empty seats - but those who were there were treated to sheer gold. The programme-book suggested that Bach was the key, and Bach was a key. But Kremer was the key, his musical imagination stamped all over the programme.
Kremer is, arguably, not only the greatest fiddler alive, but one of very few great players who actively supports contemporary music, playing it with no special pleading. This programme wonderfully wove the past and the present, presenting a set of sentiments as much as a set of pieces.
The first half was somewhat anguished. Schnittke's Prelude in memoriam Dmitri Shostakovich was completed in just 24 hours. The tolling left-hand pizzicato, the vibrato-less chords, the bitter-sweet major/minor ambiguity said it all, Kremer, like a lightning conductor, translating the pain. Kobekin's Double Variations for violin and suspended cymbal turned out to be not a Goon Show spoof but a homage to Bach, with a snatch from the St Matthew Passion distorted to provide Kremer with a vehicle for his unreal technique. And Lubos Fiser's Crux for violin, timpani and bells was again anguished, jagged, resigned.
But it was Bach's Chaconne from the D minor Partita that took the breath away. Kremer is so great a player that when a piece was written is inconsequential. This Bach could have been composed yesterday. Kremer plays as if improvising, nothing is predictable, everything is right. No other player so intuitively shows Bach's structure, buried as it is in complex decoration, yet keeps the pace and character of the dance. Kremer's colours, tonal and dynamic, are an object lesson.
The second half was lighter in vein, with more Bach and Kremer's great love, Astor Piazzolla. Time for the greatly gifted Andrei Pushkarev to dazzle. In his own arrangements for vibraphone of four keyboard Inventions by Bach, Pushkarev, in a delightfully modest manner (masking a ferocious technique), brought jazz, smoke and swing both tastefully and deeply musically to Bach. The many encores were richly deserved.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
- 2 Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
This house and dental clinic 'piled up like bricks on the brink of collapsing' is why Japan wins at architecture
Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Jurassic World trailer already facing criticism from palaeontologists
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict