The season winds down, but happily. Tuesday night’s concert at Royce Hall was,
indeed, a most happy and vital occasion: challenging, joyous and
Gidon Kremer is an old friend; he has performed here as violin soloist with the
Philharmonic, as recitalist on his own, and as a chamber player. Tuesday’s
program was none of the above; it had Kremer sharing the stage with another
violinist, nothing more. The other violinist, new to these parts, was none
other than Tatyana Grindenko. At one time she and Kremer were married, raising
a family in Moscow. Then he defected from both home and homeland, and found new
worlds and new wives in other lands. Grindenko, meanwhile, won a few prizes and
amassed a career on her own. Now, with glasnost, she is beginning to earn a
worldwide reputation.
Well she might; she’s an exciting performer, eloquent and gifted with a
dazzling technique. She made her way into a killer piece by Luciano Berio, the
“Sequenza VIII” for solo violin, snapped a string, fixed it and began the
whole work over again — an evening’s toil in itself for most violinists.
On his own, Kremer delivered a stupendous reading of the Bach Chaconne, the
only really familiar work on the program. He also took on six rather sweet
little Zodiac-inspired pieces by Stockhausen (the same music we heard when the
EAR Unit did his “Belly Music” a couple of months ago).
Together (Kremer plus Kremer, if a note of cuteness may intrude) the pair
played some truly fascinating music. First came a strange duet piece by the
late Luigi Nono, Italy’s great political and musical rebel — his last work,
entitled “We must go forth.” LIke most of Nono, this was a piece as much
theatrical as musical; the performers circle one another like slow-moving
panthers, coming to rest and playing some music off at the edge of audibility,
then moving on again. Irritating? Hypnotic? Nono had a way of being both.
Finally came the Prokofiev Two-Violin Sonata of 1932, and where has it been all
our lives? Wonderful music, this, from Prokofiev’s most robust period: four
tiny, terse movements full of charm, wisdom and, in the scherzo, some
enchanting arrogance. Violinist and violinist {cq} joined forces as one, in a
performance that came across as nothing less than a revelation. For dessert
there was a delicious ham sandwich, a pastiche of various romantic composers’
treatment of the famous “Carnival in Venice” tune, hilariously tossed off
with a hilarious larger-than-life delivery to send happily homeward a loving
but undersized crowd.

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