Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kremer versus...?

Do have a look at this astonishing post on Norman Lebrecht's blog in which he publishes, at Gidon Kremer's request, the letter that the great violinist sent to the head of the Verbier Festival explaining why he has pulled out of it. 
"...I simply do not want to breath the air, which is filled by sensationalism and distorted values.  Lets’ admit – all of us have something to do with the poisonous development of our music world, in which “stars” count more than creativity, ratings more than genuine talent, numbers more than…. sounds..."
Oof. The festival's composer-in-residence, Lera Auerbach, has written an eloquent response which Norman has also popped up:
"...The show must go on even when the walls around are falling down, because this is part of being an artist – accepting the  imperfections of the world around and transcending the reality, transcending the gravity, creating regardless of circumstances and above all – sharing the gift of music..."
Kremer's letter is interesting on many counts. There's a message that I sense seeping through between his words. I accept, of course, that there could be other interpretations, but I'm still seeing the same one after a few days of following the story. Is it possible that this revered violinist is objecting to the possibility that some of the more image-focused younger artists might, in his view, use this starry festival to further their careers by "name-dropping" the great artists they've worked with there, when he feels that their talent doesn't merit it, when in his opinion they are perhaps more about glamour and "sex appeal" than genuine musicianship that "serves" the cause of great music?

I've taken a peek at some of the young artists appearing at this year's Verbier, because in my experience - and I've been there frequently - Verbier doesn't usually take just anyone. Here are some videos of three of Verbier 2011's "rising stars".

Khatia Buniatishvili: Liszt Liebestraum No.3. You know Khatia if you read JDCMB regularly - she's featured several times this year. She is 23, is a BBC New Generation Artist and is making her Proms debut this summer.

Jan Lisiecki: Chopin Waltz in C sharp minor, performed at Chopin's birthplace. Jan, from Canada, won the Manchester Piano Competition a few years ago when he was only 12 or 13 - I was there and heard his winning performance, an exceptionally beautiful and well-calibrated performance of a Chopin concerto. Now DG has signed him up and it won't be long before his debut disc comes out.

And now, meet violinist David Garrett. Plus, here's his website.

OK, that was a bit naughty... though I think it must have brightened up people's lunchtime in the Big Apple. Here he is again, playing in Verbier just the other day: an extract from the Beethoven Violin Concerto, conducted by Gabor.

Just for a little comparison in terms of style, approach, technique, etc, here is Kremer himself (audio only) playing Schnittke's cadenza for the Beethoven Violin Concerto.

I am drawing no conclusions whatsoever, naturally...