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Gidon Kremer & Kremerata Baltica 

When: Fri., Feb. 7, 7:30 p.m. 2014
Price: $15-$30
Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer has a bone-deep empathy for victims of Soviet and Russian repression, past and present; he grew up under authoritarian rule, and as he told the New York Times in August, “The trends Russia is heading in now make me worry and reminds me of those times.” In October, Kremer presented a concert in Berlin called “To Russia With Love,” intended to express support for people currently suffering humanitarian abuses in Russia, and his compassion also manifests itself in his choice to celebrate the work of Polish Jewish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg. Born in Warsaw in 1919, Weinberg fled to Russia just before the Nazis invaded, and would spend the rest of his life there; when he settled in Moscow in 1943, he learned that his entire family had been killed in concentration camps. He fell victim to Stalin’s anti-Semitism (the dictator’s death in 1953 spared him from imprisonment), and the rigid Soviet agenda forced composers, even towering figures such as his colleague Dmitri Shostakovich, to appease the powers that be, avoiding avant-gardisms and nodding to nationalist themes. On a forthcoming ECM release named after Weinberg (due February 18), Kremer’s long-running Kremerata Baltica, which has been incubating young talent from the Baltic states since its formation in 1997, tackles five major Weinberg works, none more riveting than 1978’s Third Sonata for unaccompanied violin, composed in memory of his father. Kremer plays it with remarkable sensitivity, underlining its emotional fragility and marshaling its astringent power with nonchalant virtuosity. Tonight’s concert includes Weinberg’s Tenth Symphony, a daring work awash in richly hued drama that mixes ideas from serialism into its rumbling explosions, ominous drones, and harrowing melodies. Also on the program are pieces by Shostakovich and Britten. —Peter Margasak

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