The Lithuanian-Russian-Jewish Krein clan became a musical family of great renown, first in Czarist Russia and then in that country’s turmoil-ridden Stalinist era. Seven of their works are featured in the wonderful Toccata Classics album DREAMS AND DANCES.
Abram Krein’s sons were all musicians, with bothers Alexander and Grigori and Grigori’s son, Yulian, achieving success as both composers and performers. Their Jewish roots informed much of their musical DNA, which, combined with Russian folk-music, and Western European influences defined their creations as uniquely theirs.
That brother Grigori managed to weather the stormy environment of Communist Russia between 1924 and 1963, creating works that despite harsh censorship of anything remotely sounding like Decadent Bourgeois Western music, sounded authentically his is nothing short of miraculous.
Older brother Alexander’s compositions bear a lushly melodic strain deeply rooted in Russian early 20th century post-Romanticism, tinged with folkloric rhythmic and harmonic gestures, while bother Yulian’s 1961 and 1974 works embrace a mélange of Jewish and modernist sounds all his own.
Alexander Krein – Esquisses Hebraïques No. 1, Op. 12 for clarinet and string quartet (1909)
Alexander Krein – Esquisses Hebraïques No. 2, Op. 13 for clarinet and string quartet (1910)
GrigorI Krein – Poème for clarinet and piano (1940)
Grigori Krein – Two Pieces on Yakut Themes for clarinet and piano (1940)
Grigori Krein – Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano (1940)
Yulian Krein – Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1961)
Yulian Krein – Trio for Flute, Clarinet and Piano (1974)
Jussi Aalto, viola; Kirill Kozlovski, piano; Pinja Nuñez, cello; Anne Elisabeth Piirainen, clarinet; Maria Puusaari, violin; Iryna Gorkun-Silén, flute; Lea Tuuri, violin
The accomplished clarinetist Anne Elisabeth Piirainen gets the lion’s share of the playing in this recording that focuses on music for the clarinet. Piirainen commands the various idioms and styles of the music of the Krein family of Jewish musicians with sterling technique and sensitive musicality. Pianist Kirill Kozlovski is the ideal collaborative partner to Piirainen in music from the mid-20th century of Grigori Krein and in works dating from the 1960’s and 1970’s by older brother Yulian Krein.
A superb string quartet composed of Finnish musicians Jussi Aalto, viola; Pinja Nuñez, cello; Maria Puusaari, violin and Lea Tuuri, violin renders the lovely music of Alexander Krein’s Esquisses Hebraïques No. 1, Op. 12 and Esquisses Hebraïques No. 2, Op. 13 – both dating from the first decade of the 20th century, most enjoyable. Ukrainian flutist Iryna Gorkun-Silén adds dulcet tones to Yulian Krein’s trio for flute, clarinet, and piano.
The remarkable 1940 Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano by Grigori Krein closes the album, with impassioned playing by Anne Elisabeth Piirainen, Maria Puusaari, Pinja Nuñez, and Kirill Kozlovski.
Altogether this splendid album offers an intriguing view into the works of a largely neglected family of gifted composers.
Rafael de Acha ©2023
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