Back to Bach Kremer, violin; Dirs. Daniel Finkernagel and Alexander Lück (Euroarts) DVD
What a strange DVD this is. In 2001, Kremer decided to record Bach’s solo violin works, which he had first done in 1975. Kremer and his take-no-prisoners approach to Bach, the musical equivalent to Sherman’s march to the sea in its power to destroy everything in its path, pulls the music from the violin with primeval force. The DVD includes the solo partitas, multi-movement works based on dance forms, and Kremer turns them into the vertiginous ride of a lifetime. (This recording, along with the solo sonatas, is available on ECM.)
That’s surely one welcome approach, but couldn’t the directors have refrained from editing the takes so much? Many phrases are edited between multiple camera angles, cutting from close-up views to far away. Maybe they were seeking a visual metaphor for Kremer’s own slicing phrasing, but they come close to inducing nausea.
An hour-long doc covering Kremer’s unique life with Bach’s violin works is included. Born in Latvia and trained at the Moscow Conservatory, he later left the Soviet Union and set up a chamber-music festival in Lockenhaus, Austria, as his international career unfolded. Scenes of performances from the festival, held in the splendid, gilt-clad Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus, are lovingly included, as are Kremer-centric interviews of conductor Simon Rattle and composer Sofia Gubaidulina.— Marc Geelhoed