Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Schnittke, Rozhdestvensky, London Sinfonietta|
Piano Concerto for Four Hands
An excellent performance of the Concerto for Piano and Strin
Christopher Culver | 08/28/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This old Erato disc features one of Alfred Schnittke's most popular works in excellent performance along with, as far as I know, the only recording of a late work. Gennady Rozhdestvensky leads the London Sinfonietta, with Viktoria Postnikova as piano soloist, and the composer's widom Irina Schnittke appearing on the piano four-hand work. Note that this disc has been reissued in Warner's budget line Apex, so that's a better place to hear this music.
The Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra (1979) uses many different features and is a combination of variation, sonata, and cyclic form, with one theme related to Orthodox chant and another a twelve-tone series with tonal features, the whole being fairly easily graspable. The concerto starts its peak early with an ostinato reminscent of Sofia Gubaidulina ("Zeitgestalten" or the "Viola Concerto"), and then a heavy cadenza, while the second half of the piece is played piano. This is a fine work, and one of the composer's most accessible and engaging with its clear dramatic arc. I'm amazed that it hasn't entered the standard repertoire. In this recording Rozhdestvensky takes it very slow, with his reading clocking in at 26 minutes compared to e.g. Markiz' 20:30 on a BIS recording. Nonetheless, due to the performers involved and their close personal relationships with Schnittke, I'm drawn to consider this recording authoritative.
The Concerto for Piano Four Hands and Chamber Orchestra (1988) is a somewhat different kind of work, written after Schnittke's first stroke when his style became progressively more spare and bleak. The overall structure is of six sections in one movement, continually rising to peaks that then fall in total catastrophe, and ending with a pianissimo thread that seems to cut off in mid-sentence. There's a quotation from Shostakovich's Eleventh Symphony, and a preoccupation with Romantic excess that was soon to disappear from Schnitke's music. While the result is entertaining enough on one listen, I don't feel like this work calls me back for repeating listening--a problem I have with much late Schnittke."