Violinist Gidon Kremer, who was declared the greatest violinist in the world by none other than Herbert von Karajan, is an artist who has gained much of his success by pushing the envelope and exploring new possibilities in music. Later in his career, he has eschewed relying on the standard repertoire and instead has preferred to seek out music and interpretations that may be unknown to many listeners. Those who are familiar with his playing now may be slightly surprised by this DVD recording of his Four Seasons with the English Chamber Orchestra. Recorded in 1981, Kremer had apparently not yet caught the spark of new or revolutionary interpretations. Both his playing and that of the English Chamber Orchestra is, of course, top-notch both musically and technically. But for an artist who has made his name by doing things differently, there's little that distinguishes this performance from the countless other recordings of the four concertos currently available. The sound quality of the orchestra is acceptably clear when listening in standard stereo mode, but becomes unintelligibly muddy when switching over to five-channel surround sound. Considering the full sticker price of the DVD, it's also a shame that Deutsche Grammophon didn't add anything else to the program that clocks in at barely over 40 minutes of music.
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons [DVD Video] Review
by Mike D. Brownell