Gidon Kremer / Boston Symphony Orchestra / Charles Dutoit SOFIA GUBAIDULINA Offertorium

This entry in DG's Echo 20/21 series of contemporary music reissues is outstanding for its musical quality, engineering, and remarkable performances. Offertorium is aptly subtitled "Violin Concerto" to reflect the role of the solo violin, here played with brilliance and understanding by Gidon Kremer, for whom it was written. It's in three continuous sections, each headed by a fascinating Webernesque deconstruction of the theme from Bach's Musical Offering. The extensive violin part is technically demanding, and the vigorous orchestral interjections range from the hauntingly wispy to the aggressively colorful. "The Homage à T.S. Eliot for Octet and Soprano" can be described as "mystical with backbone," perfectly complementing the texts, drawn from Eliot's Four Quartets. The music itself is haunting, rhythmically alive, and forward-moving. Its 33 minutes fly past, thanks to the Kremer-led all-star octet, Gubaidulina's inventive scoring, and the tension-filled vocal lines. Soprano Christine Whittlesey, a noted performer of modern vocal music, who sings in three of the work's seven movements, offers outstanding vocalism and interpretative intensity. (Dan Davis)

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