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Gidon Kremer - Edition Lockenhaus

Release Date: 10/24/2011 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 001599002  
Composer:  Richard StraussOlivier MessiaenCésar FranckAndré Caplet,   ... 
Performer:  Dmytro MarchenkoKhatia BuniatishviliMarkus BellheimAndrei Pushkarev,   ... 
Conductor:  Simon RattleRoman KofmanHeinz Holliger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata BalticaShedryk Children's ChoirHagen String Quartet,   ... 
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This set celebrates the 30th anniversary of Gidon Kremer’s Lockenhaus Festival. In some ways, Lockenhaus resembles Marlboro: almost private gatherings of first-class performers, playing unscheduled programs to which the public is admitted. The main differences are that Marlboro is also a school for young musicians, whereas Lockenhaus—only two weeks each summer—concentrates on new or seldom-played repertoire. The first CD in this set contains previously unreleased performances from 2001 and 2008; the other four are reissues of recordings from the 1980s.

The basic Lockenhaus principle that every concert have a theme may seem to be violated by the enormous stylistic range of this set,
Read more but each disc not only conforms to but asserts that idea. Messiaen (in 1943) and Strauss (1945) each expresses his view of the catastrophe that was World War II, the former eternally hopeful, the latter buried in grief and nostalgia for what has been lost. Simon Rattle leads Kremerata Baltica in a potent, stunning Metamorphosen ; the string playing is rich and deep, and marvelously transparent recorded sound allows us to imagine that we can hear every one of the 23 parts—as if it were chamber music. I find this performance as mesmerizing as the classic Furtwängler and Klemperer recordings. Roman Kofman conducts the same ensemble in Messiaen’s three Liturgies , with the Shedryk Children’s Choir of Kiev; the soloists are Markus Bellheim, piano; Christine Rohan, ondes martenot; Khatia Buniatishvili, celesta; Andrei Pushkarev, vibraphone; plus Dmtro Marchenko and Igor Krasnovsky, percussion. The solo instruments are very effective, particularly the ondes martenot, which has seldom contributed so vividly. The children’s choir pushes too hard and can shriek at tense moments, but this is nevertheless a winning performance, in a bright yet intimate acoustic.

The performance of the Franck Quintet (pianist Alexandre Rabinovitch, with Lukas Hagen, Krista Bennion, Tabea Zimermann, and Clements Hagen) is inconsistent, with awkward joins and only an occasional rise to a romantic climax. Despite the big names, the strings are scrawny and the cello weak, which may be due to the dry, thin recorded sound (CDs 2 and 3 were recorded by Austrian Radio, apparently before ECM became involved with the festival). Nevertheless, a small audience goes wild. André Caplet’s 1919 Conte fantastique , after Poe’s “The Mask of the Red Death,” is for harp (Ursula Holliger) and string quartet (Daniel Phillips, Michael Schnitzler, Gérard Caussé, and Ko Iwasaki). The 16-minute movement is an odd mishmash of recognizably turn-of-the-century French music with sporadic attempts to be modern, lacking the depth of Debussy, the clarity of Ravel, the wit of Les Six, or the daring of Stravinsky’s. Again the performance is clouded by dreary recorded sound. Just when one has abandoned hope for Lockenhaus’s foray into France, Christine Whittlesley’s lovely soprano envelops “Mon cadavre est doux comme un gant,” a song of almost unearthly beauty, followed by “Fleurs,” which is only slightly less magical. Master pianist Robert Levin might seem wasted on Poulenc’s simple chordal accompaniments, but he is also a master of subtlety.

The Hagen Quartet (Annette Bik, second violin; Rainer Schmidt would replace her in 1987 and thus on the 1988 DG recording) gives a stunning reading of Janá?ek’s “Kreutzer Sonata” Quartet, highlighting both its beauty and its emotional force. The sound is now much improved, so this ranks with the finest recordings in the catalog. Kremer, Eduard Brunner (clarinet), and Aloys Kontarsky (piano) play three dances from L’Histoire du soldat , emphasizing its darker side by hitting every chord with maximum force, which muddles Stravinsky’s tricky rhythms. Heinz Holliger leads a chamber ensemble from the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie in the Concerto in D. The snap and polish of the composer’s Columbia Symphony recording is missed, but the lyrical pages are charming. Flutist Irena Grafenauer, clarinetist Brunner, and pianist Oleg Maisenberg deliver sweet, relaxed performances of two Shostakovich waltzes, loaded with almost Viennese charm and lacking any of the composer’s usual sardonic bite. The early (1924–25) Prelude and Scherzo for string octet is something of a washout, displaying none of the imagination or flair of the contemporary First Symphony. The Hagen Quartet, joined by Thomas Zehetmair, Phillips, Hatto Beyerle, and Markus Stocker, is betrayed by another thin, opaque recording.

Disc 4 gets down to serious Shostakovich. The performers are:

Quartet No. 14: Gidon Kremer Kremer Kremer

Quartet No. 13: Yuzuko Horigome Thomas Zehetmair Annette Bik

Two Movements: David Geringas Boris Pergamentschikow Thomas Demenga

Despite all the internationally famous names, these are truly integrated ensembles. The performances of the two late quartets suggest a feeling for and understanding of Shostakovich well beyond that of most recent recordings; in particular, the Emerson’s 1994 concert readings seem businesslike by comparison. Lockenhaus tempos are slow, the many solos impassioned and drawn out—Imai’s playing in the viola-centered 13th Quartet is wonderfully ethereal—bringing us close to the illnesses and tragedies of the composer’s final years. The fear and terror we associate with his life are here dwarfed by the immediacy of pain. At such tempos, there would be no room on this disc for the 15th Quartet; nevertheless, the Two Movements of 1931—revisions of dramatic set pieces—are disruptive to say the least; the disc would have been better without them.

The notes spend six pages on Erwin Schulhoff’s connections to Shostakovich, saying “they belonged to the same generation.” But the former was 12 years older (and died 31 years earlier), writing his most deeply felt music when the latter was but a precocious teenager. They also say that the two “knew, respected, and supported each other,” which helps explain Schulhoff’s early, eerie predictions of some late Shostakovich quartets. They note that Schulhoff was widely known and extremely popular in his time, which leads to reflections that the Nazi propaganda machine was so successful in wiping him off the earth that he (and we) have yet to recover, 70 years later. Schulhoff on my shelves has been carefully pruned to 15 CDs, but I can’t remember hearing a single live performance in New York—which also bears on the ever-shrinking classical repertoire in America. The works on disc 5 are among his most widely recorded, the performances excellent but never revelatory, even though the Sextet is played by another starry lineup: Kremer, Philip Hirschhorn, Imai, Kashkashian, Geringas, and Julius Berger. Hirschhorn and Geringas play the Duo; one wishes it were Kremer, who has an unmatched feeling for Schulhoff’s music. The notes relate the five etudes to “the style of jazz pianists such as Gershwin.” But James Tocco’s relaxed, charming playing is nothing like Gershwin, who played everything very fast, with enormous nervous energy.

One may view this set as a grab-bag of miscellany or as something-for-everybody. I will keep it for Metamorphosen, the Poulenc songs, and the Janá?ek and Shostakovich quartets.

FANFARE James H. North
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Works on This Recording

Metamorphosen for 23 solo Strings, AV 142 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1945; Germany 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Petites liturgies (3) de la Présence Divine by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Dmytro Marchenko (Percussion), Khatia Buniatishvili (Celesta), Markus Bellheim (Piano),
Andrei Pushkarev (Vibraphone)
Conductor:  Roman Kofman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica,  Shedryk Children's Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; France 
Date of Recording: 2008 
Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor, M 7 by César Franck
Performer:  Lukas Hagen (Violin), Alexandre Rabinovitch (Piano), Krista Bennion-Feeney (Violin),
Tabea Zimmermann (Viola), Clemens Hagen (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; France 
Date of Recording: 1984 
Conte fantastique after Edgar Allan Poe's "Masque of the Red Death" by André Caplet
Performer:  Michael Schnitzler (Violin), Ursula Holliger (Harp), Daniel Phillips (Violin),
Ko Iwasaki (Cello), Gérard Caussé (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; France 
Date of Recording: 1982 
Fiançailles pour rire: no 4, Mon cadavre est doux comme un gant by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Christine Whittlesey (Soprano), Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; France 
Date of Recording: 1984 
Fiançailles pour rire: no 6, Fleurs by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Christine Whittlesey (Soprano), Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; France 
Date of Recording: 1984 
Quartet for Strings no 1 "Kreutzer Sonata" by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Clemens Hagen (Cello), Veronika Hagen (Viola), Annette Bik (Violin),
Lukas Hagen (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hagen String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; Brno, Czech Republic 
Date of Recording: 1984 
L'histoire du soldat: Three dances by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Aloys Kontarsky (Piano), Eduard Brunner (Clarinet), Gidon Kremer (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 1981 
Concerto for String Orchestra in D major by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Heinz Holliger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Youth Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
Date of Recording: 1984 
Waltzes (4) for Flute, Clarinet and Piano, Op. 97c: no 3 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Irena Grafenauer (Flute), Oleg Maisenberg (Piano), Eduard Brunner (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USSR 
Date of Recording: 1981 
Waltzes (4) for Flute, Clarinet and Piano, Op. 97c: no 4, Barrel Organ by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Eduard Brunner (Clarinet), Oleg Maisenberg (Piano), Irena Grafenauer (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USSR 
Date of Recording: 1981 
Pieces (2) for String Octet, Op. 11 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Markus Stocker (Cello), Lukas Hagen (Violin), Daniel Phillips (Violin),
Veronika Hagen (Viola), Clemens Hagen (Cello), Hatto Beyerle (Viola),
Thomas Zehetmair (Violin), Annette Bik (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924-1925; USSR 
Date of Recording: 1984 
Quartet for Strings no 14 in F sharp major, Op. 142 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Kim Kashkashian (Viola), Yuzuko Horigome (Violin), Gidon Kremer (Violin),
David Geringas (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1973; USSR 
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Live  Lockenhaus Festival 
Length: 29 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 13 in B flat minor, Op. 138 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Nobuko Imai (Viola), Gidon Kremer (Violin), Thomas Zehetmair (Violin),
Boris Pergamenschikow (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1970; USSR 
Date of Recording: 1985 
Venue:  Live  Lockenhaus Festival 
Length: 22 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Pieces (2) for String Quartet by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Veronika Hagen (Viola), Annette Bik (Violin),
Thomas Demenga (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; USSR 
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Live  Lockenhaus Festival 
Length: 7 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Sextet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and 2 Cellos by Erwin Schulhoff
Performer:  Philippe Hirshhorn (Violin), Gidon Kremer (Violin), Nobuko Imai (Viola),
David Geringas (Cello), Julius Berger (Cello), Kim Kashkashian (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; Prague, Czech Republ 
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Live  Lockenhaus Festival 
Length: 22 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Duo for Violin and Cello by Erwin Schulhoff
Performer:  David Geringas (Cello), Philippe Hirshhorn (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Prague, Czech Republ 
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Live  Lockenhaus Festival 
Length: 17 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Jazz Etudes (5) for Piano by Erwin Schulhoff
Performer:  James Tocco (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Prague, Czech Republ 
Date of Recording: 1986 
Venue:  Live  Lockenhaus Festival 
Length: 12 Minutes 30 Secs. 

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