No matter how brilliantly played, how beautifully recorded, how enthusiastically performed, a disc of joke encores is still a disc of joke encores. No one could complain that the KREMERata BALTICA is a less than superb chamber orchestra or that Gidon Kremer is less than a spectacular violinist or that Nonesuch has not given Kremer and the KREMERata stunning sound. No one could complain that the pieces are not fun and funny and sometimes a little touching. But who could possibly listen to the disc straight through? Heck, who could possibly want to listen to some of these pieces more than once? Once, Alfred Schnittke's Polka is a little racy, a little scary, and a little funny. Once, Peter Heidrich's "Happy Birthday" Variations are vaguely funny in a "What if Mozart wrote Happy Birthday way. Once, Vato Kakhidze's "Blitz" Fantasy is, well, not really funny but silly with its string sound effects and its singing orchestral players. Once, not all the way through but at least for the first few minutes, Ghys and Servais' Variations brillantes et concertantes on "God Save the King" is diverting. More than once, Tchaikovsky's Elegy is fairly affecting in a schmaltzy, smarmy way. Not even once is Teddy Bor's idiotic McMozart's Eine Kleine Bricht Moonlight Nicht Musik even remotely funny. Once or maybe twice, the "Auld Lang Syne" Variations by Franz Waxman (yes, the film composer) might provoke a smile, especially the "Homage to Shostakofiev" that blends "Auld Lang Syne" with the Scherzo from Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1 and Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2. But by the time the disc has wound down to Ladislav Kupkovic's inane Souvenir, there are no smiles left and absolutely no more patience for joke encores.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Gogol Suite, for orchestra (music from "The Dead Souls Register;" orchestrated by G.Rozhdestvensky)|
|Happy Birthday Variations, for orchestra|
|Blitz Fantasy, for violin, piano & string orchestra|
|Quartets for piano & strings ("Auld Lang Syne Variations")|