Gidon Kremer is Nothing Short of Breathtaking on ‘Songs of Fate’

Many of these powerful, emotionally wrought tracks revolve around what Kremer has called “the notion of Jewishness” and include laments and a pair of kaddishes

By Greg Cahill | From the May-June 2024 issue of Strings Magazine

This deeply personal recording, from a superstar violinist who has turned his back on celebrity, is nothing short of breathtaking. “Gidon Kremer has perhaps never before revealed himself as intimately and as existentially focused as on this recording,” German musicologist Wolfgang Sandner writes in the liner notes to the Latvian violinist’s new album, Songs of Fate


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Gidon Kremer, violin; Kremerata Baltica String Orchestra; Vida Miknevicˇiuˉté, soprano (ECM)
Songs of Fate, Gidon Kremer, violin; Kremerata Baltica String Orchestra; Vida Miknevičiūtė, soprano, (ECM)

Many of these powerful, emotionally wrought tracks revolve around what Kremer has called “the notion of Jewishness” and include laments and a pair of kaddishes. There are such works as The Star of David, arranged by Lithuanian composer Giedrius Kuprevičius, as well as the Jewish Songs, Op. 13, by Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg. Kremer has recorded several of Weinberg’s works in the past, including his sonatas for solo violin. Bookending Songs of Fate are the premiere recordings of Raminta Šerkšnytė’s haunting “This too shall pass” and Jēkabs Jančevskis’ dynamic “Lignum.” 

Weinberg: Aria, Op. 9

Soprano Vida Miknevičiūtė adds an ethereal touch to “David’s Lamentation.” Featured players include cellist Magdalena Ceple and vibraphonist Andrei Pushkarev. On solo passages, Kremer sometimes digs into his strings like a man possessed. Of course, as a music director, Kremer has nurtured his Kremerata Baltica String Orchestra, founded in 1997, into an international music powerhouse driven by some of the world’s most talented young string players. They never fail to deliver. Songs of Fate consistently offers some of the most captivating string music I’ve heard in recent memory.