Gidon Kremer’s name is instantly recognizable as one of the most formidable and venerated violinists of our time. On Jan. 15, 2015, he and young Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov (First Prize winner at the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions) will perform in recital for the La Jolla Music Society in San Diego (http://ljms.org/ai1ec_event/gidon-kremer-violin-danil-trifonov-piano/?instance_id=2195).
Their lineup of much-loved works from the classic violin repertoire will include Mozart’s Fantasy in D Minor, K.397, Schubert’s Fantasy for Violin and Piano in C Major, D. 934, and Rachmaninoff’s “Trio élégiaque” in G Major (in which they will be joined by guest cellist Giedre Dirvanauskaite), coupled with an addition to the original program of a contemporary work, Weinberg’s Solo Violin Sonata No.2.
In this interview, the refreshingly candid Kremer shares some of his insights and experiences with his devoted fans.
EM: David Oistrakh was one of the great twentieth century icons of the violin, and was my own personal idol growing up as a young violinist. You began your own studies with him as a teenager, having entered the Riga Music School at the tender age of seven, and after winning First Prize of the Latvian Republic. What was it like to study with this grand master, Oistrakh? How did he influence your development as a violinist?
GK: His main quality towards students as probably towards literally everybody was GENEROSITY, not so often seen among musicians and especially teachers. David Oistrakh encouraged me a lot to search (for) my own voice.
EM: Your bio describes you as having “perhaps had the most unconventional career” of leading violinists worldwide. Would you agree or disagree with that statement?
GK: This is one of the labels often “invented” by publicists. In this respect I can quote another “punch-line” once used in the English-speaking press:” Gidon Kremer is so much out, that he is already in”. I disagree with both ☺
EM: Having become known for performing works by numerous major contemporary composers, you added a contemporary piece to your original program of all standard classics for your La Jolla Music Society recital.
GK: I am very grateful to the promoter to have accepted my latest proposal - a small addition/change to the program. This gives me a possibility to introduce to the audience the second solo sonata by Mieczyslaw Weinberg, a close friend and colleague whom I recently discovered for myself to be one of the greatest contemporary composers.
EM: Do you prefer performing as a soloist with orchestra or in recitals?
GK: I do prefer to serve music with whom ever: good conductor or orchestra, great partners in chamber music, youngsters, who just begin their path in chamber music and on stage and - of course - with Kremerata Baltica (http://www.kremeratabaltica.com, the chamber orchestra comprised of outstanding young musicians from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that he founded in 1997).
GK: I wouldn’t be able to name one. Usually even a good performance becomes “history” on the next day, when you are obliged to focus on the upcoming concert. Nevertheless - the partnership with Leonard Bernstein on Brahms (the violin concerto) and his own “Serenade” or Mozart, Beethoven and Berg Concertos (with) Harnoncourt remain unforgettable. Besides that I cherish my cooperation with great partners like Martha Argerich, YoYo Ma and Kremerata Baltica. Let’s hope the concerts with Daniil Trifonov will add up to the “collection” of those nicest experiences.
EM: What inspired and/or motivated you to start writing books and become “Virtuose de la plume comme de l’archet”?
GK: I do not consider myself - despite having published numerous books - to be a “writer”. Sharing experiences and thoughts in my own words is just equal to my wish to share valuable sounds (old and new ones) written by others.
EM: Would you ever consider hanging up your “archet” and conducting full time?
GK: Never would I allow myself such a thing. After having been privileged to play with many great conductors of our time, it would be ridiculous - to become a “dilettante”.
EM: Is there anything, musical or otherwise, you haven’t yet done that you would like to do?
GK: I would love to find the “recipe ” for being relaxed and put my worries and insatiable desire to expand aside. In my imagination it would mean - to allow myself the luxury of having unlimited time to share my feelings with friends and loved ones.
Photos used by permission of Horst Helmut Schmeck and Gidon Kremer
Erica Miner can be contacted at [email protected]