Review: De Profundis –Gidon Kremer, violin and director/ Daniil Grishin, viola/ Ula Ulijona Zebriunaite, viola/ Andrei Pushkarev, vibraphone/ Reinut Tepp, cembalo/ Kremerata Baltica – Nonesuch

09.30.10
Gidon Kremer, Kremerata Baltica
Audiophile Audition

By Steven Ritter

“I don’t know what to say—beauty such as this requires no words.”

De Profundis – [TrackList below] Gidon Kremer, violin and director/ Daniil Grishin, viola/ Ula Ulijona Zebriunaite, viola/ Andrei Pushkarev, vibraphone/ Reinut Tepp, cembalo/ Kremerata Baltica – Nonesuch 287228, 77:23 *****:

I am not one to give a lot of credence to the philosophical mumbo-jumbo that often serves as the rationale for any recording. In this case we get a mouthful according to the flyer that accompanied this release, from “Orwellian states” (referring to anti-democratic societies using oil to sustain themselves) to all of us enlightened listeners (“worshippers of art”—really?) to the title, De Profundis (“out of the depths”, referring to these artists here recorded crying out for a better world…)

Okay, I have no doubt that Kremer and associates are sincere in this, and that is admirable though I must confess that artists of any stripe seem to me naïve as hell politically. But he says that this is not his intention but only to “affirm a deep-rooted expression that can resonate within anyone”, and I take him at his word. It has inspired Kremer to put together a program of music for the Kremerata Baltica of such sheer delight and exquisite beauty that I felt emotionally ravished when it was over. 

Just check out the track listing below—looks like an odd combination, doesn’t it? But the music fits his stated goal—resonate it does, and with a passion and magnificence that leaves one wilted at the conclusion. Pärt’s piece is terrific, just what you expect from him, scintillatingly gorgeous. The title track from Raminta S?erks?nyte? is a real discovery, moving and life-affirming at once. Michael Nyman has inspired mixed reactions from me over the years, but this one is a jewel. Auerbach’s Dialogues is a wonderful work of great substance, while Flowering Jasmine reduced me to tears. Of course there are atonal and dissonant moments among some of these pieces but only in the context of an overriding tonality. The point is that all are beautiful, one of the best collections of its kind that I have ever heard.

The sound is rather lively and I think the vibraphone a little too closely recorded, but I am reporting that out of duty rather than necessity. This is a fantastic album, played to the hilt by the Kremerata Baltica, and you will love it every bit as much as me.   

TrackList:

Scene with Cranes (Jean Sibelius)
Passacaglia (Arvo Pärt)
De Profundis (Raminta S?erks?nyte?)
Fugue No. 6, from Six Fugues on the Name B.A.C.H., Op. 60 (Robert Schumann)
Trysting Fields (Michael Nyman)
Minuet No. 3 and Trio in D Minor, D. 89 (Franz Schubert)
Lasset Uns den Nicht Zerteilen (Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer / J. S. Bach)
Adagio, from Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (Dmitri Shostakovich)
Dialogues on Stabat Mater (alter Titel) (Lera Auerbach)
Melodía en La menor (Canto de Octubre) (Astor Piazzolla)
Flowering Jasmine (Georgs Pelecis)
Fragment (Fragment (from an unfinished cantata) (Alfred Schnittke)