Gidon Kremer: I always feel at home in Riga
“I am happy that the festival “Born in Riga” is taking place this year and that my city has become the European Capital of Culture,” says Gidon Kremer, emphasising that it is a great honour for him and the chamber orchestra “Kremerata Baltica”, founded seventeen years ago, to participate in the concert series. He reminds us that the orchestra was established and had its office at Vāgnera iela 4 – the building where Richard Wagner used to work. “We once had an idea that this is where a concert hall should be located that would become the Riga base for my orchestra, but unfortunately this matter remains unsolved. Therefore, if you wish to know what I think of the fact that Riga still does not have own concert hall, I am afraid I cannot answer this question, neither in Latvian nor in Russian.
Of course, it is very good that there is a concert hall at “Ziemeļblāzma” and in other areas of the city, but it seems to me that, in this regard, we may have been “lost in translation”, so to speak.”
Speaking of the concert on the 7th of March (it needs to be said that “Kremerata Baltica” has already performed at the “Ziemeļblāzma” culture centre once, whereas for Gidon Kremer this will be his first time), the founder of the orchestra says that he wishes to single out Mieczysław Weinberg’s Quintet that will be performed on Friday as well as at the next two concerts by the orchestra. “We are pleased that Weinberg has now been recognised as one of the most important composers of the century. He was close friends with Dmitri Shostakovich, and he was undeservedly forgotten. But we also have helped the world learn about Weinberg, and now the entire world is interested in this composer’s music.”
Why does Kremer still call Riga his city? “I am closely associated with Riga by the fact that my grandfather Tālis Brikners was a professor at the Conservatory, as well as the fact that both my parents played in the Latvian Radio Orchestra for twenty-seven years, whereas I attended the Emīls Dārziņš Music School. That is why I will never forget Riga,” Gidon Kremer continues, reminding us that the first concert of “Kremerata Baltica” was also performed in Riga.
“Today there are many young musicians in “Kremerata”, there is a new generation of musicians, but “Kremerata Baltica” remains to be a phenomenon that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia can be proud of, and we are happy to demonstrate this also in our native Riga.”
The artist notes that his chamber orchestra continues to collaborate with a great variety of artists, for instance, pianist Andrei Korobeinikov who will be performing together with the orchestra during the concert at “Ziemeļblāzma” on the 7th of March. According to Kremer, Korobeinikov is one of the young and very talented artists that the orchestra collaborates with. “We will go on several tours next year, when we will continue our collaboration with cellist Mischa Maisky – also a Rigan and a classmate of mine. In May we will perform together with the young Lithuanian conductor Mirga Grazinyte. And we have just returned from a tour of America,” Gidon Kremer comments on the orchestra’s plans for the future. He also mentions a concert at the Great Guild Hall in Riga this summer that will be part of the “Kremerata” festival: a very interesting programme is being drawn up for the concert that will be dedicated to Žanis and Johanna Lipkes, featuring a new work by composer Arturs Maskats for the Žanis Lipke Memorial, titled “Žanis and Johanna. Love”. “I know that it will be a tango, but that is all I can say about the new composition at the moment as I have just received the score. Maybe Maskats was inspired by the film “Midnight in Paris”. If so, this composition might be titled “Midnight in Riga”,” says Kremer, revealing that he also likes to go for a stroll in Riga when he has time, but he prefers the quieter areas, not the bustling parts of the city.