Kremerata Baltica at Cal Performances
November 01, 2010
* Notes *
Kremerata Baltica is touring North America and performed in Berkeley yesterday as part of the current season of Cal Performances. The first piece, Šerkšnytė's De Profundis, did not include artistic leader and soloist Gidon Kremer. The playing had much fire, and one could feel an intense commitment to the music from all the players. This fervor continued unabated throughout the performance. Kremer came out for the next five works, all played one after another without pause. They started with Schubert's Minuet in D minor from Five Minuets and Six Trios, which attacked in an impressively unromantic manner. Pärt's Passacaglia for Violin Solo and String Orchestra was likewise played savagely. Tickmayer's Fragment Transcription of J.S. Bach's St. John's Passion was rather dry, appropriately détaché, yet still avant-garde. Piazzolla's Canto de Octubre had more verve, perhaps, and Auerbach's Sogno di Stabat Mater was vehement. After the intermission we heard Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14 set for string orchestra by Kremer and Victor Kissine. Though the playing was strong, with a fine legato and charming lilt, the piece, as played by a whole orchestra, was simply puzzling. In fact the entire program was terribly odd. This strangeness carried into the encores, which included Piazzolla's Michelangelo 70 and E. Toch's Geographic Fugue. The latter is a vocal work, originally in German, but was translated into English by Kremerata Baltica.
* Tattling *
Since it was Hallowe'en, I dressed as Adele from Die Fledermaus, complete with enormous turquoise-colored ostrich feathers in my hair. These were removed for the performance itself. As I replaced said feathers during the intermission I was informed that I was blocking the view of the stage. Perhaps someone else helpful silenced the person making zombie noises during the first two pieces, but this went on quite a long time. A watch alarm sounded several times during the Beethoven.