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Thread: Alfred Schnittke

  1. #1
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    Default Alfred Schnittke

    Schnittke, is truly a unique composer. All of a sudden a jazz pianist interrupts the orchestra and starts playing. I was like, how cool is that. His music is serious and ironic at the same time. I have listened to every symphony of his except No. 3. That is definitely on my wishlist of works to listen to by Schnittke. I have really enjoyed all of his symphonies. His odd-numbered symphonies are in the polystylistic style for the most part and his even numbered symphonies are on the spiritual/religious side. Like symphony No. 2 is a homage to Anton Bruckner. His Cello Concerto No. 2 is just so tragic and moody, definitely one of my favorite concertos for cello composed in the 20th century, that is no. 2. Does anyone else enjoy listening to Alfred Schnittke's works, if so which ones? I have heard his chamber works are extraodinary! I could use some more recommendations on what other works of Schnittke's I should try out.
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    How about "all of them"? But truly, he wrote some duds; who hasn't? But if you already like the symphonies, then why not just buy some chamber stuff. Anything really. I don't particularly like symphony no. 2, for instance, but I don't regret buying it. And who knows? You made me want to haul it out and give it another spin.

    (My favorites of the non-symphonies: Concerto Grosso no. 1. One of the more engaging openings out there. For prepared piano. (The opening. There are other instruments. Hence the "Grosso," eh?) Sonata No. 2 (Quasi una Sonata) for violin and piano. Non-stop virtuosity.)
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    Senior Member some guy's Avatar
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    And how could I have forgotten "The Inspector's Tale"? Far as I know, there's only the one recording of this. But it's worth tracking down. It has Denisov and Gubaidulina on it, too. It's a Μелодия disc (MLD-32113), distributed by MCA.

    On a recently acquired "Musik in Deutschland" CD, there's a Schnittke piece for four metronomes, three percussionists, and piano. Another quirky, funny piece by our Alfred.

    (That's SONY/BMG LC 00316. It has Morton Feldman's "Half a minute is all I've time for," which takes them fifty-nine seconds to get through. The slow version, I guess. And a bunch of other tasty stuff.)

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    I will check out his chamber works out. I will probably try listening to his string quartets, violin sonatas, cello sonatas, etc. Are there any recordings of his operas out there? I have his Faust cantata, but I want to hear the full-length version.
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    I had the Faust opera, briefly. It didn't seem to add anything to the cantata, really, and some things were changed in a bad way. Sorry I can't be more specific. I got rid of my copy years ago.

    I still have "Life with an Idiot," though, which is NOT an opera about me, I don't care what my ex-wife tells you!

    But I haven't listened to that recently enough to say anything useful about it.

    Basically, this response is useless. I don't know why I'm still typ
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    Default Schnittke

    Quote Originally Posted by messiaenfanatic View Post
    Schnittke, is truly a unique composer. All of a sudden a jazz pianist interrupts the orchestra and starts playing. I was like, how cool is that. His music is serious and ironic at the same time. I have listened to every symphony of his except No. 3. That is definitely on my wishlist of works to listen to by Schnittke. I have really enjoyed all of his symphonies. His odd-numbered symphonies are in the polystylistic style for the most part and his even numbered symphonies are on the spiritual/religious side. Like symphony No. 2 is a homage to Anton Bruckner. His Cello Concerto No. 2 is just so tragic and moody, definitely one of my favorite concertos for cello composed in the 20th century, that is no. 2. Does anyone else enjoy listening to Alfred Schnittke's works, if so which ones? I have heard his chamber works are extraodinary! I could use some more recommendations on what other works of Schnittke's I should try out.
    I consider Alfred Schnittke as one of the great living composers after the vacuum created by Shostakovich's death in 1975.I will listen to his second symphony and his second cello concerto as soon as I get a chance. I have heard and appreciated his Viola Concerto written in 1985 played by Isabelle Van Keulen with Heinrich Schiff conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra. Another work I have heard recently is the Concerto Grosso No. 1 for Two Violins, Piano/Harpsichord and Strings written in 1977 and played by Gidon Kremer(Violin), Tatiana Grindenko (Violin), Yuri Smirnov ( Harpsichord) with Heinrich Schiff conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    I recently bought a Naxos Cd of Schnittke's chamber music, played by the AFCM Ensemble & recorded here in Australia. The CD includes his Piano Quintet, String Trio & some shorter works.

    The Piano Quintet is a very interesting piece. He wrote it in 1976, not long after the death of his mother & Shostakovich. He had also just had a stroke, so he couldn't play piano as well as before. So the piano part is not virtuostic, it's more meandering. This work has much to offer for the astute listener, it is very rewarding. In the first movement, the piano plays a single chord for about 1-2 minutes while the other instruments accompany with a melody. It's very hypnotic & disturbing at the same time. The next movement starts with a light waltz, and this melody permeates the rest of the work. He kind of pulls the waltz apart. It becomes like a delicate ornament that has shattered in pieces, like snippets of memory, dedicated to those two people. The work ends with the piano playing a fragile melody solo & it hauntingly fades away.

    The String Trio is also an interesting work, composed later & dedicated to the city of Vienna, where he spent his student days.

    These works seem to be about memory, it's maintenance, disintegration & transformation into something new. They didn't grab me at first, unlike Messiaen's, Janacek's or Shostakovich's chamber works. It takes a few listens for the music to make an impact. But I think they are great, nonetheless.

    I wonder if he wrote any film music, as this music seems very filmic to me...
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    I heard his Violin Sonata No.1 at a concert once, and I found it beautiful. So many hidden melodies in the slow movement. The Canon in memoriam Igor Stravinsky is weird, but not bad.
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    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

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    I like Schnittke very much, in 2004 I was to see one of this Operas (Gesualdo) in the Wiener Staatsoper conducted by the late Rostropovich, but I had to postpone the trip for a few weeks and missed it, did anyone see this opera?

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    I just heard a BBC Proms broadcast of the UK premiere of Schnittke's Nagasaki Oratorio. It was his graduation piece, written in the late 1950's. Shades of Shostakovich as well as oriental melodies. Overall, it is quite listenable, but there is a devastating atonal part which depicts the atom bomb hitting the city. It was an interesting work, but not as engaging for me as what I've heard of the mature Schnittke.

    By the way, since my last post about the Piano Quintet, I've realised that in the last movement he quotes Beethoven's Pastoral symphony. It just hit me once when I was listening to it months back. It's a mystery to me why he quoted this, but in any case, it makes the work more interesting. I suppose it's somehow connected to the overall theme of rememberance/memory...
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    Contrasts and Connections in Music

    "When reason and instinct are reconciled, there will be no higher appeal" - Rameau

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    Yeah, Schnittke is amazing, I love his late works. What I particularly like about him is that he got over the experiments and simply started to write music that suited him, which is, errrr... well, awesome?
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    Been a while since I went through a Schnittke phase, but a live performance of the Piano Quintet was one of the most moving experiences of my life. By all means, get a recording of this work, it is one of the giants of 20th century chamber music. I read through the cello sonata with a friend a couple of times. His small chamber works, duos, etc... can be quite fun and playful.

    I'll have to program some Schnittke into my playlist over the next couple of days!
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    Quote Originally Posted by tahnak View Post
    I consider Alfred Schnittke as one of the great living composers
    who happens to be very much dead as we speak,

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    I've just acquired a Naxos cd of Schnittke's works featuring the cello. The Cello Concerto No. 1 was written in the mid-1980's after the composer came out of a coma following a stroke. It's easy to be psychobiographical about the contents of this work, but for me it represents a mental journey of ideas, memories and images. Like Janacek and Varese, Schnittke gives us blocks of ideas which sometimes seem random and unconnected. Indeed, this work is probably not notable for it's thematic development, Schnittke hardly looks back. But who could resist the amazing climax, which for me conjures up images of a vast mountainous landscape, similar to Hovhaness. This is not an easy work to listen to but it rewards the listener who is willing to invest effort and attention to understanding it.

    The other two works on the cd are Stille music for violin & cello and the Cello Sonata, both from the late 1970's. The former has a sense of stillness and suspended animation about it, hence the title. The latter bears influence of the spikiness of Prokofiev in the middle quick movement, combined with much introspection (& angst?) in the outer slow movements.
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    Contrasts and Connections in Music

    "When reason and instinct are reconciled, there will be no higher appeal" - Rameau

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    I've just borrowed a recording of Schnittke's Concerto Grosso from the library, played by Gidon Kremer. It's a very intense half hour or so, with music that ranges from anguish and despair in the slow movement, to a cadenza whose difficult, stunted & jagged expression reminds me of Lutoslawski's Cello Concerto, and parts that sound like Vivaldi or Corelli on high-octane fuel. What I like about this music is that, depsite the conservative title, you get music that really challenges your perceptions about what is music and what is art. I think that Schnittke is one of the few modern composers whose music is quite complex, and new layers are revealed the further you dig, there's so much going on beneath the surface, it is amazing...
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    Contrasts and Connections in Music

    "When reason and instinct are reconciled, there will be no higher appeal" - Rameau

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