Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer's 2000 release Eight Seasons is a conceptual masterwork. Kremer, long known for his skillful interpretations of Astor Piazzolla's Argentinean tangos, had the brilliant idea of matching four of the Latin master's tone poems of the seasons in his native Buenos Aires with Antonio Vivaldi's conceptually similar masterpiece "The Four Seasons," alternating seasons between the two works. Besides the conceptual perfection of the idea, the performances are exquisite. Kremer and his conservatory orchestra, the Kremerata Baltica, do a particularly masterful job with the Vivaldi, avoiding the ornate bloat that affects so many recordings of this work. Their performances are brisk and to-the-point, with bright tempos that add a vitality not often found in this rather shopworn old standard. As always, Kremer's solos in the Piazzolla works are absolutely superb, with the dramatic flourishes of the massed string section providing startling counterpoint, especially on the breathtaking "Verano Porteno". Eight Seasons is a truly remarkable work by an underrated performer.
Nils Wülker has grown in the last twelve years to be one of the most successful jazz trumpeters and jazz composers in Europe. Born in Bonn in 1977, he was taking piano lessons at seven, switched to the classical trumpet when he was nine, finally discovered jazz at the age of sixteen on an exchange year in the USA and progressed via Us3’s smash hit “Cantaloop” and its original composer Herbie Hancock to Miles Davis. Back in Germany, he was picked in 1996 for North Rhine-Westphalia’s JugendJazzOrchester NRW, in which he played until he began studying jazz at the Hanns Eisler conservatoire in Berlin. He kept playing throughout his studies, whether in Peter Herbolzheimer’s BuJazzO, the RIAS Bigband or Thärichen’s Tentett, and by the time he graduated in 2002, Nils Wülker had already released his enthusiastically received and highly acclaimed debut album “High Spirits” – with the likes of Gene Calderazzo and Orlando Le Fleming – as the first German jazz musician in the SONY Music artist roster.