The Art Of Instrumentation: Hommage to Glenn Gould
Glenn Gould’s 1957 debuts in Moscow and Leningrad are widely celebrated in Russia, as he not only wowed Soviet audiences with his Bach but also, without warning, introduced banned modernist works by Webern and Krenek. Hence the curious cultural mix of this programme, a tribute mostly by composers from the former Eastern Bloc to both Gould (whose 80th anniversary falls this year) and Bach. Typical of Gidon Kremer’s concept albums, it imaginatively showcases a number of contemporary composers, some relatively well-known, such as Valentin Silvestrov and Giya Kancheli, or long associated with Kremerata Baltica such as the Russians Leonid Desyatnikov and Alexander Raskatov, together with several new names.
Apart from Silvestrov and Kancheli’s dream-like homages, the album presents arrangements of various keyboard works. While some are in ‘straight’ Baroque style, most of them, notably those by Raskatov and fellow Russian Alexander Wustin, offer eerie and surreal reflections on Bach’s music. Most striking is that of the slow movement of the Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056, its soothing foreground melody gradually upstaged by increasingly aggressive eruptions by its restive string accompaniment. Does this symbolise rebellion against hierarchy and overly rigid conformity? Maybe, though the arrangement is not by a former Eastern Bloc composer, but rather by the joker of the pack, the Australian Carl Vine.