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16.3.11

Yakov Kreizberg, Ave atque Vale

Yakov Kreizberg:
available at Amazon
Mozart, with J. Fischer
(2007)
[Review]

available at Amazon
Mozart 1/2/5, with J. Fischer
(2006)
[Review]

available at Amazon
Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto
(2006)
[Review]

available at Amazon
Russian Violin Concertos
(2004)
The news came earlier this week that conductor Yakov Kreizberg had died, at the age of 51. Jens has reviewed him twice, in concerts with the Munich Philharmonic in 2009 and 2008, although for some reason we were not able to cover his last appearance here in Washington, with the National Symphony Orchestra (here is Anne Midgette's review in the Washington Post). Over the last decade or so, Kreizberg has produced a series of fine recordings on the audiophile label PentaTone, many of them with violinist Julia Fischer.

The musicians who worked with Yakov Kreizberg have been offering remembrances, and mostly they focus on his collegiality, that he was a collaborative conductor, more concerned with the music than his own ego. At the same time he was an impeccable technician, with a profound musical understanding and clear and perfectly shaped beat that comes across in his recordings. Here are a few things we have written about him over the years.

Jens, about a performance of Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony: "If so, the third movement Pastorale would surely raise the fewest question marks: It’s a beautiful and dainty affair, undermined only (and not much) by the Manfred theme that rears its head and the bells that toll as if to remind us that the carefree episode will come to a grim end, soon. The fourth movement was perfectly musical mayhem and positive chaos under Kreizberg. How better to depict a civilized hell than Tchaikovsky does here? And yet the question comes up: ‘Wouldn’t it be hell, indeed, if music could only sound like this’?"

Kreizberg was no slouch at the piano: "Tchaikovsky rejected the concerto's original slow movement, in favor of the Canzonetta in the final score. He reused the material from the rejected Andante as the first movement (Méditation) of a work for violin and piano he called Souvenir d’un lieu cher. This performance, with Yakov Kreizberg off the podium and at the piano, rounds out a very fine achievement, enough to make even a Tchaikovsky skeptic like me sit up and listen."

Nor did he lack talent in composition: "This disc is essentially the second volume of a complete set of the Mozart concerti violin, to go along with her 2005 CD of the third and fourth concerti, with the same forces. For the second installment, Fischer has combined the last of the five, K. 219, with the two minor concerti, nos. 1 and 2 (K. 207 and 211). Just as on the 2005 disc, she has composed her own cadenzas and added her own ornamentation (in the booklet, she shares credit for their composition with Yakov Kreizberg)."

Jens again, about a performance of Shostakovich's first cello concerto: "Such refreshing Shostakovich: you get to the hyperactive parts without having to wade through all the labored build up. Those in the restless subscription audience who could not befriend the work -- not even the skewed beauty of the marvelous slow movement -- had time to focus on the gorgeous-looking conducting of Kreizberg; so picture perfect -- the dashing, ever engaged young maestro -- that it borders caricature. You might say that Kreizberg is the Hugh Jackman of conducting."

We express our condolences to his family, especially his wife and two sons.

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