Classical Music Forum banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,200 Posts
I am listening to Schnittke's Requiem and I am astounded. What are the good (not just most popular) works by this composer?
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 instrumentation


Musically, this next one may not be outstanding, but it's always fun to ask your peaceful aunt if she wants to hear a violin arrangement of Stille Nacht and then play this

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,963 Posts
I went through most of Schnittke's oeuvre about a year or so ago and these were my favorites:

Orchestral

Symphony no. 1 - The largest scale work in Schnittke's postmodern style. It's a very exuberant, extroverted work that covers a broad range of genres. It's often been described as "musical channel surfing," and it's a lot of fun as long as you aren't expecting coherence and can just enjoy the ride.

Concerto grosso no. 1 - IMO Schnittke's best postmodern work. Here the genre shifts happen more between movements rather than within, and there are more unifying motifs and themes. I'm particularly fond of the movements that sound as if Schnittke stuck Corelli into a microwave and watched it melt.

Cello Concertos no. 1 & no. 2 - The largest scale works among Schnittke's concertos. Both are among the more accessible and traditional of Schnittke's concert works, and I feel both pack a tremendous punch, especially in the cataclysmic climaxes.

Violin Concerto no. 4 - IMO the best of Schnittke's violin concertos. Memorable themes with a nice balance of extroverted excitement, emotion, and intelligent craftsmanship.

Concerto for Piano and Strings - Among Schnittke's most lyrical works and also very accessible. Not profound, but very enjoyable. At times it sounds a bit like a dark, demented lullaby.

Chamber

Piano Quintet - Written after the death of his mother and the mournful emotions are on full display. Probably Schnittke's most emotive work. It's also quite accessible, so perhaps a good starting place.

String Quartet no. 2 - Schnittke's string quartets are generally fine works but this one is especially memorable given its violent whirlwind of a second movement.

String/Piano Trio - These are the same work but in different arrangements. Both are excellent. This is again Schnittke in a more lyrical mode

Cello Sonatas no. 1 & 2 - Interesting thing about this pair is that, in contrast to the cello concertos, they belong to completely different periods of Schnittke's work, with the first being quite early and the latter being very late. Early Schnittke was more extroverted and rich, late Schnittke more introverted and spare, and that contrast shows in these works, but both are excellent examples of both styles.

Some other works I really like: Violin Concerto no. 3, In Memoriam, Concerto for Choir and Orchestra, Passacaglia, Symphonies no. 3, 5, & 8, Concerti Grossi no. 2 & no. 5, String Quartet no. 3, Viola Concerto, & Peer Gynt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,138 Posts
I don't really rate the symphonies and have never understood how so many enjoy the very much overlong 1st. I suppose the 5th (aka 4th Concerto Grosso) is OK. I do greatly like the first cello concerto, the piano concerto (piano and strings) and the viola concerto. I enjoy the Faust Cantata (Seid Nuchtern Und Wachet) for its craziness. And I like the last two quartets, the piano quintet and the fourth violin concerto.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,269 Posts
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.
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...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bruce

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,963 Posts
I don't really rate the symphonies and have never understood how so many enjoy the very much overlong 1st.
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,704 Posts
... What are the good (not just most popular) works by this composer?
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."

In the meantime, I suppose we will simply have to trust our own individual tastes and categorize by preferences. "Works we love", "Works we somewhat like", "Works we have little favoritism for", "Works we want to obliterate from the consciousness of humankind, including to put a hammer to the disc recordings of the work we have on hand." Alas ....

Since Schnittke himself will prove of little help in selecting his "good" works, and since you have little reason to trust my (or anyone-here's) judgment, perhaps the best thing to do is simply to start exploring the Schnittke oeuvre to see what you can see ... or, rather, to hear what you can hear.

The thing that immediately struck me about this composer is that he is stylistically vast and varied, often within a single work. I find the First Symphony an absolute monstrosity of sound, and I love it. Some of Schnittke's "tamer" pieces prove less interesting to me. But his music is always worth a first encounter. And much of it will likely invite further listenings on your part.

So, join the Schnittke crowd, and just start listening. I'm sure Schnittke himself would find he could approve of that endeavor as a "good" thing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
198 Posts
the two cello concertos, depressing thought they are. The piano quintet, the Concerto for choir and, as something lighter, the Concerto Grosso no. 1 is great fun. The symphonies are interestingly eclectic but patchy in my view.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,269 Posts
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!
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.

 
  • Like
Reactions: ORigel
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top