The great Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer introduces us to the music of Russian composer Mieczysław Weinberg, and explains why his new project includes old Soviet photographs.
I consider Mieczysław Weinberg, a great colleague and close friend of Dmitri Shostakovich, to be one of the most important composers of the 20th century.
As I began to round up my year of work on transcribing his 24 Preludes (originally written for cello) for the violin, I started to think about the possibility of juxtaposing the preludes and photographs.
In June 2017 my attention was caught by the work of an outstanding Lithuanian photographer, Antanas Sutkus. We met in Vilnius and, to my delight, found that we “spoke” a common language. We began to work together.
What do these two personalities – Weinberg and Sutkus – have in common? What is important to me about bringing them together?
Great works of art are of course timeless. Interestingly, however, Weinberg’s music (in this case, the 24 Preludes for cello) and many of Sutkus’ powerful images were created around the same time –1960.
While there is no direct connection between the two artists, the project makes it clear that they “shared” an experience of life. Their sounds and images reflect the world of a particular “utopian” ideology – a concept imposed on everybody during the Soviet period.
I discovered Mieczysław Weinberg’s music fairly late in my life, but immediately became one of its most fervent advocates. His Preludes can be perceived as emotionally charged “sound pictures”, while Antanas Sutkus’ highly expressive images make a unique contribution to the dynamic force of the project.
This is a realm of multi-layered stories. By adding the sounds of my violin, my aim is to allow viewers and listeners to enter the “lost world” and by doing so, to add the perspective of human beings who are still alive.