Notes and Editorial Reviews
This CD arrived in the mail nearly a full month before its scheduled release date of October 11, 2005. Of course, it will long have been out by the time you read this. As is typical of such pre-release issues, it is not yet, as of this writing, a finished product ready for consumers? shelves. It came with a press release and photocopied essay that I assume will become part of the enclosed booklet note. Gidon Kremer fans will be delighted to know that scheduled for simultaneous release with this Schubert disc will be the violinist?s new recording of Bach?s unaccompanied sonatas and partitas.
Generally, I do not
favor full string-ensemble transcriptions of string quartets, but this one is different. Victor Kissine?s carefully graded dynamics and instrumentation alterations seem to me to help clarify some of Schubert?s opaque and impenetrable writing. This transcription is not a simple case of making multiple copies of parts and having massed string sections play them in unison, as was a recent transcription of Beethoven?s op. 127 String Quartet by Murray Perahia. In contrast, Kissine has both added to and subtracted from what Schubert wrote, not in actual content, but in context. Pizzicato octave doublings are added in the bass, for example, where they tend to reinforce an otherwise vague harmonic progression. In an equal but opposite way, bowing indications such as
(over the fingerboard) and
(breathy or airy like a flute), and the use of mutes are aimed at lightening textures that, in Kissine?s words, ?are too blurred, like a water-color after a rainstorm.? The result is exceptionally effective. Schubert himself might be surprised at what a beautiful piece of music his quartet is, after all.
This is Schubert?s last (1826) and lengthiest string quartet. And, like so many of his other late works, it contains passages that are very dark and disturbing, alongside other passages that are hysterical (and I don?t mean ?ha-ha? hysterical) in their gaiety. Both elements are actually enhanced (perhaps exaggerated would be more accurate) by this transcription. A single work may seem short measure for a CD, but consider that the thing goes on for nearly an hour?more of Schubert?s ?divine length.? This is a very fine performance of something that would not ordinarily be to my taste; but in this case, I make an exception. This transcription strikes me as uncommonly successful. And of course, fine playing by Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica ensemble, and a very fine recording, contribute mightily to that success. Recommended.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
Works on This Recording
Quartet for Strings no 15 in G major, D 887/Op. 161 by Franz Schubert
Andrejs Gojikovs (Violin),
Gidon Kremer (Violin),
Daniil Grishin (Viola),
Kristine Blaumane (Cello)
Written: 1826; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 07/2003
Notes: Arranger: Victor Kissine.
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