Werke von / Works by
Leonid Chizhik · Alexander Bakshi
Isaak Dunayevsky · Giya Kancheli
Franz Liszt · Georgs Pelecis
Alexander Vustin
Gidon Kremer
Kremerata Baltica
Int. Release 01 Oct. 2004
0289 474 8012 9
CD DDD 0289 474 8012 9 GH

Track List

Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)
Années de pèlerinage: Deuxième année: Italie, S.161

Arranged for Violin solo and String Orchestra by Sergei Dreznin

Après une lecture du Dante


Gidon Kremer, Marta Sudraba, Kremerata Baltica

Leonid Czishyk
Fantasy Variations On A Theme By Mozart




Gidon Kremer, Leonid Czishyk, Kremerata Baltica


Leonid Czishyk









Gidon Kremer, Leonid Czishyk, Kremerata Baltica

Alexander Vustin (1943 - )
Giya Kancheli (1935 - )

Alexander Bakshi (1952 - )
Georgs Pelecis (1947 - )
Isaak Dunayevsky (1900 - 1955)
Kremerata Baltica, Gidon Kremer

Total Playing Time 1:18:57

Kremerland . . . scores highest for originality . . . Kremer himself darting hither and thither with devilish aplomb . . . Very effective.

Judging by the extraordinary contents of this CD, "Kremerland" is certainly a country that inquisitive travellers should consider visiting. The musical terrain is full of unexpected delights and points of interest, with surprises guaranteed at almost every juncture . . . Simply inspired, the performance and exemplary recording serving to intensify the music's dare-devil virtuosity and harmonic complexity.

"Kremerland" is a musical country with . . . plenty of fine music to sightsee.

A musical adventure through uncharted terrain on this scintillating collection . . . Bristling with humour and joie de vivre . . . A panorama of constant surprises . . . This is landscape filled with charm.

Hats off for the violinist, gentlemen: a genius whose commitment to the new has made all this music possible, and helped silent voices speak in the commercial mainstream. Optimal playing time and bright sound.

The group of musicians from the three Baltic republics seems to be game for anything that might give them a good time, and they play phenomenally.

Talent, musicality and humour are here in abundance . . . I know I will return to this piece often, just to keep my spirits up . . . Superb performances . . . in state of-the-art sound.


78 Minuten und 57 Sekunden dauert die neue CD von Meistergeiger Gidon Kremer und seinem Streicherensemble Kremerata Baltica. Doch birgt die Reise durch "Kremerland" (Deutsche Grammophon) mit ihren fast schon verschwenderisch variablen Facetten Stoff für viele, viele Stunden Hörgenuss.

Mal im Kancheli-Tal gewesen? In der Dunajewski-Ebene? Am Wustin-See? All das liegt in Kremerland, und Gidon Kremer, Top-Geiger mit lettischen Wurzeln und Schalk im Nacken, lädt zur Fantasy-Reise dorthin. Sie führt durch osteuropäische Kulturen und stellt Komponisten vor, die bekennende Crossover-Praktiker sind; ein Zickzack-Trip durchs Stilgewirr, hinreißend humorig präsentiert . . . wahnwitzig, liebenswert.

Virtuos glänzt Gidon Kremers Geige . . .

Une belle unité . . . rassemble le tout, orchestré de main de maître et avec un goût sûr par les membres de la Kremerata Baltica.

Posiblemente Gidon Kremer es el único virtuoso internacional que organiza divertimentos a la manera del siglo XVIII, es decir, que buscan admirar al oyente con programas imaginativos, novedosos y un tanto frívolos. Este disco, bautizado como Kremerland, es un divertimento, y la verdad es que me ha divertido muchísimo. ... Es evidente que los músicos de la Kremerata se han divertido. También los compositores se han divertido. Las piezas son imaginativas, sagaces, chispeantes, y el oyente puede pasárselo estupendamente ... puro espectáculo. Y muy bueno.

Un apasionante experimento de un Gidon Kremer cada vez más heterodoxo ... gran violinista ...
The Map of Kremerland

Liszt Point, Vustin Sea, Kancheli Valley, Pele-cis River, Dunayevsky Plains, Ocean of Transcriptions, Encore Islands, Reminiscence Gulch, Innovation Ridge – these are only some of the names we might find on any large and detailed map of Kremerland, a vast artistic country that we would still be far from describing in its entirety. It is a land founded by Gidon Kremer and his musicians, its frontiers drawn by the fine lines of their views on art and yet not precisely fixed, for it is very much this constant shifting of boundaries away from their traditional positions and the cautious questioning of their apparent immutability that form an important part of the creative concept of Kremer and his Kremerata.

This is a land created by the imagination of its interpreters, by their way of playing and by the cohesiveness of their ensemble, to say nothing of their intellectual drive and choice of repertoire. It has arisen from whatever was to hand or from rarities miraculously discovered. And it is open to travel. The countryside is far from fixed but is a network of paths and possibilities, deceptively structured by associations released within the traveller. It is a fantastical and at the same time a very real country. And if the traveller, seeing its contours, thinks that it reminds him or her of familiar countries and continents, be they existent or sunk in the past, this is not at all surprising.

Some of Kremerland’s lines and elevations, for example, reveal the outlines of the former Soviet Union, but it would be wrong to equate the two. The music of those composers who are linked by their Soviet past forms only one part of the artistic world of Kremer and his Kremerata, albeit an important one. It is like the common air that many of these composers and musicians have breathed. It is also largely true to say that the composers from the former Soviet Union are not united by any geographical bond: while some have remained where they were, others now live abroad. And their work nowadays represents not so much the musical scene in Soviet Russia as the much broader European context.

Julia Bederova
(Translation: Stewart Spencer)

Composers and Compositions

Indeed, the only composer to represent the art of the Soviet Union in the present release is the popular Soviet composer of light music, Isaak Iosifovich Dunayevsky (1900–1955), who wrote twelve operettas and a large number of film scores for comedies. Dunayevsky, too, offers scope for the play of association: for Kremer and his players, Dunayevsky is the Russian Gershwin, a conviction that clearly persuaded Sergei Dreznin to write a work in the form of a fantasy using the themes from the film classic ”Circus”

An inhabitant of Kremerland now based in Europe is Giya Kancheli, who was born in Tbilisi in 1935 and who currently lives in Antwerp. He is a member of the generation of Schnittke, Denisov and Gubaidulina. In Russia, it is his film music to which he owes his popularity, whereas in Europe the sophisticated writing and openness of his symphonies have won him many admirers. He is particularly highly regarded in his native Georgia.

The Muscovite composer Alexander Vustin was born in 1943 and might be seen as a product of the Soviet avant-garde if it were not for the fact that, temperamentally speaking, he is the very opposite of a pupil. Vustin uses an extremely rationalistic yet original serial technique. Listeners will also discover in his music a lyrical emotionality and an identifiably Russian tone, but his search for ritualized effects and his attempt to recreate the familiarity of folk music never leads to folksy superficiality.

Alexander Bakshi was born in Georgia in 1952 but now lives in Moscow, working on the idea of a synthetic music theatre and searching passionately for a new genre similar to that of opera and ballet but without their literary character. In his performances traditional genres and forms play roles specially written for them, and the musicians for their part are both actors in the drama and sounding boards for the music.

Georgs Pele-cis was born in Latvia in 1947. He broke away from the postwar avant-garde in the late 1970s and early 80s, professing his allegiance instead to a “new simplicity” and “new euphony”. He remains true to these ideals, just as he remains true to his native Riga. Though he has not moved geographically, however, his music has lost its Soviet colour and gained a European dimension.

Unlike the Russian music of the late 20th century – generally associated with the names of Schnittke, Denisov and Gubaidulina – the musical portrait of Russia and the former Soviet Union that emerges from the compositions of Kremerland has a strikingly and surprisingly droll and mosaic-like quality. These varied works confront the listener with a highly idiosyncratic sense of humour. Not without irony and tenderness, they tell of shimmeringly varied playing styles and languages within a shared region that has been torn apart. They tell, too, of astonishing changes in the country’s history and its more recent past, of close relationships with western European art and of the ways in which they have been beguiled by cultural symbols while remaining free from their overpowering influence.

The listener will ask what Liszt’s Après une lecture de Dante has to do with this anthology of pieces. Here the geographical aspect is less important than that of intellectual journeys, artistic fantasies, musical transcriptions and subtle and even unintentional stylizations. Liszt transcribed a vast amount of music by earlier and contemporary composers, conjuring up choice and magical piano arrangements of Beethoven’s monumental symphonies, Schubert’s rapt songs and now forgotten Italian operas. Following in his footsteps, Sergei Dreznin has rewritten Liszt’s work bar by bar, adding new passages and the whole cadenza. The denizens of Kremerland fantasize on themes from every period, quoting, rhapsodizing, playing with genres and transcribing entire aesthetics so that both the vanished Soviet Union and the whole vast expanse of Kremerland itself seem to be inspired by Liszt’s visionary and receptive genius.

The strict style of Vustin’s Tango hommage à Gidon – a dodecaphonic tango that combines number symbolism with a virtuoso game of hide-and-seek, in which the composer consciously eschews the element of dance in order to write a tango for the concert hall – suggests an independent Russian version of the European avant-garde and of the school of Edison Denisov.

The subtle irony of Bakshi’s The Unanswered Call, by contrast, is not only aimed at the formal ceremonial of the concert hall (basic to the musical texture is the insistent ringing of mobile phones) but also contains an allusion to Charles Ives’s famous piece The Unanswered Question (1906), thereby breaking a lance for the genre of instrumental theatre as an alternative to Denisov’s “pure music”. Kancheli’s gentle humour occupies a corner of Kremerland somewhere between Vustin and Bakshi. His Rag-Gidon-Time shows no great similarity with his symphonic frescoes, which are full of vague allusions and translucent expressivity, yet it too reveals an awareness of the deceptiveness of language, a sense that this genre is like an island sunk beneath the surface of the sea.

The longest stylistic journey is that undertaken by the Fantasy Variations for piano, strings and percussion by Leonid Chizhik. (The version with solo violin was made for Gidon Kremer.) The theme of the variations is taken from Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331 and begins its journey in the world of classical jazz, before striking out in a direction that is extreme even by the standards of jazz variations: it passes from the samba to sombre dodecaphony and from the quasi-Baroque to the instrumental virtuosity associated with Romanticism. The piece resembles a proliferating quotation, but the transparency of the writing and the ease with which it is stylistically transformed take the original on such an extended voyage that the logic of quotation gives way to a logic of variation. The constant and elaborate stream of figures and associations resembles a glossy magazine, its pages dog-eared from much leafing back and forth and full of reproductions of long-familiar and contemporary masterpieces, photographs of academic virtuosos and rock musicians, an advertisement for coffee, half-recognized images of landscapes and drawings of a toothbrush in profile.

Georgs Pele-cis’s Meeting with a Friend adopts an equally free approach to a broad range of figures extending from primitivism to mass culture. The piece was written in memory of a walk through Moscow with the composer Vladimir Martynov. Repetition and tonality form the framework within which there is no longer any difference between Pele-cis’s own words and those borrowed from other composers. The languages and traces of bygone music and its emotions, forgotten techniques, the most antiquated and popular dialects and phrases are woven into the musical fabric. One style recalls another; nursery songs dream of Viennese Classicism, Schubert, William Byrd and the Beatles. Allegories, metaphors and allusions permeate the music featured here. History and geography – passing into each other – seem to be less of a well-structured sequence of events clearly marked out in advance than a game of overlapping meanings, shapes and contexts. This game has such a sense of coquetry to it that there are times when it looks like an assault on art by all that is most trivial.

Finally, some of these pieces are ironical concert fantasias or encores from a world far removed from the mainstream logic of concert-hall routine. All are sophisticated transcriptions of carefree dances or, conversely, high-spirited dances subsumed beneath the label “classical music”. But let us not forget Liszt: who can criticize the salon if noble claims and intellectual power are lacking? The salonesque is transcribed, resulting in an elaborate shadow play in which pictorial symbols and generic templates appear as actors in a drama. It is a mask, and its portrait is one of the many mirages in Kremerland, a land that turns out to be a cultural area in its own right.

Julia Bederova
(Translation: Stewart Spencer)

Kremerata Baltica

The chamber orchestra KREMERATA BALTICA was formed by Gidon Kremer in 1997 as a “present to himself on his 50th birthday”. Following his birthday celebrations, it was Kremer’s wish to keep the Kremerata and to serve as its artistic director and soloist. He wanted to pass on to the musicians his own experiences as an artist and his close involvement in practical music-making, and to exchange creative energies and views on art with them.

The 27 musicians of Kremerata Baltica come from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Unlike those orchestras that remain in one place, the members of the Kremerata regard themselves as “citizens of the world” and give around 60 concerts a year in the course of six or so tours that take them as far afield as Japan and Mexico. The Kremerata has appeared at many of the world’s leading festivals from the Salzburg Festival to the BBC Proms and in some of the world’s principal concert venues, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Vienna Musikverein, the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the Munich Philharmonie im Gasteig, the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and London’s Royal Albert Hall.

In 2002 the ensemble was awarded a Grammy for After Mozart and the following year was nominated for George Enescu. They have appeared with artists of the eminence of Jessye Norman, Heinz Holliger, Oleg Maisenberg, Sabine Meyer, Michala Petri, Anatoli Kotscherga, Boris Pergamenshikov and Tatiana Grindenko. And Kremer has often been happy to cede his place on the podium to conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Christoph Eschenbach, Yuri Temirkanov, Peter Schreier and Kent Nagano. The Kremerata has developed its own very personal style by combining instrumental mastery with an unusual repertoire strategy, playing rarely performed works and modern music and devoting its attentions by preference to composers from eastern Europe. It has given the world premières of works by Arvo Pärt, Giya Kancheli, Pe-teris Vasks, Leonid Desyatnikov and Alexander Raskatov.

Sergei Dreznin

Concert pianist and composer Sergei Dreznin was born in Moscow in 1955. He has lived and worked in Moscow, Vienna and New York, and is now based in Paris. Fourteen of his music theatre pieces have been produced, ranging from works based on Shakespeare and Pushkin, set in a jazz idiom, to the black humour of songs from the Theresienstadt Ghetto, from a biting satire on the New European Right to a musical tribute to September 11. In typically Russian fashion he is not afraid to mix "high" and "low” styles, keeping his eyes and ears open to the chaos of the ever-changing world.