Thursday, December 21, 2006

Camerata Klaipeda - full of Zest!

The Camerata Klaipeda is a very interesting little string orchestra. Founded by the Lithuanian violinist, Vilhelmas Cepinskas (or Cepinskis) who studied at the Julliard School in New York with Dorothy Delay, it is a gathering of 13 string players plus Cepinskas, all of whom are under 30, and some are still at the music academy. The aim is to give the young ones experience in small orchestra playing with good soloists; like all young people's orchestras they play with oodles of energy and enthusiasm. Why and how people lose this, I don't know. One of the interesting little things the orchestra does is that the violinists swap places after every piece, so the leader of the seconds might be at the back of the firsts for one piece, or beside the leader of the firsts for another piece. People slip from back to front and side to side, and it all works really well. It's not possible for the 2 each of the violas and cellos, but perhaps they change parts if they play very divisi music.

Anyway, yesterday's concert in the Filharmonija was an evening of transcriptions. I am not sure I approve of quite such an undiluted approach to transcriptions. Tke Kremerata Baltica does it, the Moscow Soloists do it, and now the Camerata Klaipeda does it, too. Is it something about Eastern Europe? And they all scale up music, like sonatas, trios or string quartets. There is plenty of nice music for chamber orchestras, so why go for all these transcriptions?

The first piece was Cepinskas' transcription of the Martinu sonata for two violins, with Cepinskas himself and the Ukrainian Oleg Krysa as the soloists. I am not sure this transcription worked well, because it lacked the contrast between the piano accompaniment and the violin sound. As a result, the two soloists drowned a little in the massed strings behind them. Also there seemed to be some uncertainty between the two soloists and it certainly put me on edge, wondering what might happen next. But all went well enough.

Oleg Krysa then played the Shostakovich sonata, orchestrated by M Zinman. Apart from the piece being neverending, and a little morose, it went very well. I felt Krysa was far more relaxed in this, and did some sublime playing, totally in control. The second movement had a lovely section sounding like bells, where the bell sound moved around from one fiddle to the next, and one never knew where the 'rrrriiinnng' might come from.

Finally the orchestra picked up the Mendelssohn Octet. It was a bit awkward with the violins playing their parts in groups of two or three to a desk, whereas the lower strings all played an individual part. The double bass part was added to Toscanini, we were told - but the double bassist was spotted shaking his head. The orchestra really took off for this one, zipping through the piece, almost lifting off. This was by far the most successful piece of the evening! The concert ended with a lovely encore of what else but Piazzola.

The Mendelssohn octet used to give me nightmares, and for a long time I could only listen to it from behind the settee. In my early chamber music playing days one evening another quartet attending the same course asked my quartet if we fancied playing this piece in the evening. It seems that is the sort of thing one does. The only problem was that they played it every year, and I had to sightread it - it became more of a Mendelssohn septet.... Hearing it last night, with one of the violas opening with syncopation I am sure I would not have played that part!