Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mihkel Kerem - Symphony No. 3 'For the Victims of Communism' - Lamento for Solo Viola & Strings - String Sextet - Estonian National Symphony Orchestra - Tallinn Chamber Orchestra - Tallinn Ensemble - Mikk Murdvee - Toccata Classics 2013

Directly back to the "all-unopened-all-unheard piles of music" posts we go. This time it's another Toccata Classics recording, the offering being the music of the young (born in 1981) Estonian composer Mihkel Kerem. I know nothing about Kerem, in fact I'm pretty sure that when I bought this in 2013 what caught my eye was the mention of Shostakovich and Tishchenko in the blurb on the back cover of the cd. Plus it's a Toccata release; I'd be more than happy to own their entire catalog sight unseen (unheard)!! 




In the booklet notes, Mihkel Kerem has this to say about his third symphony: "I found it very difficult to start the work: I could not find the right musical language to put the "story" across. In the end I realised that the only way to describe what I wanted to say was to use the musical style of Dmitri Shostakovich." 

By the "story" Kerem means Communism itself and the unfathomable suffering that it brought, and the motivation for such being the reading of Shostakovich's memoirs "Testimony". "Testimony" was Published in 1979 by musicologist Solomon Volkov who claimed that Shostakovich dictated all of the material to him in a series of meetings between 1971 and 1974. (There have always been some questions concerning the authenticity of the memoirs, as some material apparently predates the book, such as quotes that are recorded/dated many years or decades earlier; and some people believe Volkov fabricated certain events. Meanwhile those who knew Shostakovich well said the memoirs were accurate..while others who also knew him well said the opposite(!). Personally I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle; it's likely that Volkov did a good deal of editing-without getting Shostakovich's approval. All the same "Testimony" is a powerful and important document that should be read by anyone interested in Shostakovich). 

I can tell you that Kerem clearly knows his DSCH, and although I'm only halfway into the first movement, it's actually more enjoyable and less derivative than I expected (Kerem's notes did leave preconceptions on my brain, after all). I'm excited for the rest of this disc indeed! I hope everyone enjoys it as well..

Mihkel_Kerem_Symphony_No.3_'For_The_Victims_Of Communism'_Etc.-Tzadik.zip

http://www5.zippyshare.com/v/e5tAG42A/file.html

13 comments:

Johannes R. Becher said...

Thanks a lot for this. I'm little over 5 minutes into the first movement and I've already devoured the booklet. A very detailed outline of the programmatic stuf, but I'm not sure how much sense it will make in the end (or rather how much sense I'll be able to make out of it). It wouldn't be the first program I come accross that apparently is rather stated than implemented (Penderecki's Threnody or Hammamuth's Stadt der Engel, for instance).

As for Testimony, Toccata themselves have released a thick volume on the subject. Surely interesting, but probably way too hagiographical (Toccata style), independently of how much our beloved Shosti deserves (undoubtedly a lot).

Anonymous said...

Gracias por estas claroscuras gemas del extraño composer,todo un descubrimiento,estimado Tzdadik.Un abrazo de Doktor Tapirman.Sempre suyo en su gesta heroica del blog!!

Anonymous said...

Your stuff is stolen! Upload stuff that YOU PIAD FOR!

Tzadik said...

Anon how about adding your account info or name?
Not that I owe you or anyone else an explanation but these are all discs that I bought. Not sure why the negativity from you

Squirrel said...

Great music thank you! It does sound like Shostakovich to me, the symphony.

Tzadik said...

Hi Johannes you are welcome friend. I have found the entire disc to be pretty rewarding. The symphony, which Kerem describes in the most sombre of ways, is
I think very good, I was pleasantly surprised. It reminds me of several Soviet-era works that have no program (usually that would hardly have been needed). Whether it fits together cohesively I'm not sure really. No matter. I wasn't aware of the Toccata book. Would like to check it out no matter what the angle of the writing.

Tzadik said...

Doctor T, you are welcome, as always! Be well my friend, TZ

Tzadik said...

Hi Squirrel you're welcome, thank you for commenting :) TZ

Johannes R. Becher said...

Hi Tzadik,

Toccata has published quite a few books. Interesting as their volume on Shosti can be, I think their most outstanding release to date is Hans Gál's memoirs.

Richard Bowden said...

Thanks for this very interesting ,which I see has divided opinions as to worth. The symphony stands too close to Shostokovich for my liking without that master's saving imagination, and passages of bombast can be tiring to listen to. The lament for viola and the sextet however are different matters, the latter so in particular (although still derivative, this time from Schoenberg's Transfigured Night) never the less very enjoyable.

Tzadik said...

Hi Richard, you are quite welcome & thanks for commenting. Clearly this Symphony is not a DSCH masterpiece, however it's better than I expected. That said, I won't be playing it every day! The other works I enjoy as well, and I agree about the Sextet. -Also it's a tad presumptuous I think (and silly) of the composer to say that his idea was that his Sextet and Schoenberg's would be played together...and without pause as if the two Sextets were linked (think that's what he said). High hopes indeed..

TZ

Tzadik said...

Hello Johannes
Wow, Ii didn't know they released Gál's memoirs. That I want to get my hands and eyes on as well!

Best, TZ

Anonymous said...

Fascinating disc thank you