Gidon Kremer / Kremerata Baltica

New Seasons

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The New Seasons referred to in the title here are the so-called American Four Seasons, the Violin Concerto No. 2 of Philip Glass, which has even less of a connection to Vivaldi's model than do Astor Piazzolla's Buenos Aires Four Seasons and other works that take Vivaldi as a point of reference. The work is in eight sections, but which ones are supposed to represent which season is left up to the listener. It's really a typical but unusually effective example of late-period Glass, with the composer's usual textures intact but lots of harmonic motion. Part of the interest here lies in hearing Latvian violinist and conductor Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica, long champions of minimalism's Baltic branch, tackle a work by one of the leaders of Western minimalism. The American Four Seasons get a treatment that's a bit rougher than usual, but then Kremer turns around (after a Pärt girls' choir interlude) and delivers pristinely smooth, glassy textures in Giya Kancheli's Ex contrario. The program closes with a fascinating little melody by Japanese rock musician and film composer Shigeru Umebayashi, a daring and effective choice. This may not be to the taste of all Glass lovers, but it's an unusual minimalist selection, performed to the Kremerata Baltica's usual sterling standards.

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