Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
I don't much care for the Shostakovich, and the Schnittke, w
Christopher Culver | 04/05/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This Deutsche Grammophon disc brings us two 1995 performances from the Lockenhaus Festival featuring violinist Gidon Kremer and members of his chamber ensemble Kremerata Music.
The first piece is Alfred Schnittke's "Prelude in Memoriam Dmitri Shostakovich" for violin and tape (1975). The tape part is a recording of another violin line--the piece can also by performed with two live violins, one offstage. The Prelude features a double canon based on the D-S-C-H and B-A-C-H motifs, but ultimately the B-A-C-H motif absorbs everything else in the work, which Schnittke meant to suggest a "return to origins". It is an intriguing work, providing more substantial music over its 5-minute length than you might imagine possible. Definitely something to track down in some recording or another if you like Schnittke's other string-heavy music from this period like "Moz-Art a la Haydn" or the Concerto Grosso. No 1.
Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 15 (1972) appears here in Viktor Derevianko's composer-approved arrangement for piano trio, percussion and celesta. The Fifteenth is clearly inspired by the Shostakovich's thoughts of his own mortality as it contains a retrospective examination of the composer's whole life. Its opening movement with its evocations of toys and games is meant to represent childhood and the occasional appearance of the "William Tell Overture" speaks something about the innocence of youth. The subsequent plethora of quotations from earlier works summaries the composer's career. Those familiar with Shostakovich's work will notice bits here from nearly all his symphonies, such as the elegant inclusion of the DSCH motif from the 10th. There are also quotations from Wagner, Mahler, and Tchaikovsky.
I find Shostakovich's Fifteen quite disappointing. By the early seventies, most Soviet composers had already tackled serialism and moved on to a plethora of bold new ideas, even if they faced some official disapproval. Just look at the output of other Soviet composers like Part and Gubaidulina at this time. Shostakovich, however, continued to write with the same tools he always has, even though this is now quite stale. It's not bad music, in fact it is quite pleasant and entertaining, but there is little original insight and one constantly recalls Boulez's quip that Shostakovich was just a "second- or third-pressing of Mahler". Derevianko's arrangement of the Fifteen provides clearer textures of the piece, yet still a more vivid world of timbre than the earlier arrangement for two pianos.
This DG disc is long out of print. I tracked it down because Kremer's recordings of Schnittke can, in many cases, be seen as definitive. However, if you are not a Schnittke or Shostakovich completist, it's probably not worth it for you."