ppp (Gidon Kremer)
Gidon Kremer (violin); Kremerata Baltica; Kremerata Lettonica (Skani)
Plakidis: Little Concerto for Two Violins; Pētersons: Ground; Pi = 3,14; Music for a Large Ensemble; Pelēcis: Three Pieces from Fiori Musicali
Gidon Kremer (violin); Kremerata Baltica; Kremerata Lettonica
SKANI LMIC139 54:22 mins
The title ppp of this engaging album refers not to quietness, but the surnames of its featured composers: Pēteris Plakidis, Kristaps Pētersons and Georgs Pelēcis. Yet, as diverse in style and mood as their collected works are, none are loud in any showy or overtly impassioned sense. Rather, there’s a kind of combined seriousness and playfulness which serves to mark 25 years of Kremerata Baltica with an understated generosity of spirit typical of its founder, the Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer.
All three composers are – or were – Latvian, with two born in Riga, 1947. The much-missed Plakidis (1947-2017) is represented by Kremer in duo with violinist Madara Pētersone. Their rendition of his Little concerto for two violins (1991) is both touching and subtly virtuosic in exploring, via the evolution of simple motifs, the idea of concerto as a form of joint song.
Pelēcis (b1947) is an expert on counterpoint, and his Three Pieces from Fiori Musicali suggests Frescobaldi. Yet it’s cyclic, melodic refinement – now mournful, now dancing – that most distinguishes ‘The Lone Calla’ (2017), ‘Dance of the Peonies’ (2020) and ‘Cosmea Melancholy’ (2020).
They are soulfully played by Kremer, Ukrainian vibraphonist Andrei Pushkarev and the Kremerata, whose Lithuanian contingent prove beguiling in Kristaps Pētersons’s coolly jazz-inflected Music for a Large Ensemble (2021). Born in Valmiera, 1982, Pētersons is also an excellent double bassist and his solo Ground and π = 3,14 (with fellow bassist Iurii Gavrilyuk, Pushkarov and electronics) prove especially intriguing, the latter with an off-beat, noirish sci-fi appeal.