I think his viola concerto is generally acknowledged to be his greatest work. Other than that, amongst his shorter works, I don't mind this one for the haunting melody and interesting instrumentationI am listening to Schnittke's Requiem and I am astounded. What are the good (not just most popular) works by this composer?
Any work which quotes La Cucaracha for no fathomable reason must have something going for it. I once wondered if it was an oblique reference to Trotsky's assassination in Mexico. Probably not...Three of my favorite works of his are his 3rd symphony, his second violin sonata, and the piano quintet. Best--for me, perhaps not objectively.
I enjoy it for the sheer audaciousness. It's very much an "...and the kitchen sink" work in which a young, talented composer decided to throw everything he could into a compositional blender, and it's fascinating to hear how it moves through so many styles and genres. Overlong? Perhaps. Lacking coherency? Sure. I still think these other features make it a very fun, invigorating work.I don't really rate the symphonies and have never understood how so many enjoy the very much overlong 1st.
I suspect it would be helpful if composers themselves ranked their works by categories such as "Good", "Eh...Passable", "Not So Good", and "Absolutely Terrible -- don't listen to this one at any cost."... What are the good (not just most popular) works by this composer?
He also has the charming "Suite in the Old Style" in which he plays it absolutely straight... at least until the end:If you want a fun Schnittke piece, look no further than "(K)ein Sommernachtstraum", where a charming classical melody is taken on a journey of existential nightmares... in a good way
If I may, I would compliment this with Sketches, an enlargement of the Gogol Suite. In 1985 the choreographer Andrei Petrov staged a ballet called Sketches to commemorate the 175th anniversary of Gogol's birth. As Schnittke was asked to provide the music he was able to press the earlier Gogol Suite back into service while fleshing it out with over a dozen new pieces, thus creating the expanded work on the recording below.I highly recommend the 'Gogol Suite' available on BIS, conducted by Lev Markiz with the Malmo SO. It was the piece that made me want to find out more. He's borderline genius to be fare. Enjoy!