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  • Schnittke: Concerto for Piano, Variations on One Chord, Improvisation & Fugue
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Schnittke: Concerto for Piano, Variations on One Chord, Improvisation & Fugue Box set, Single, Double CD, DualDisc, Enhanced, Hybrid SACD, Ringle, SACD, Soundtrack

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Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra27:44Album Only
  2. Variations of the Chord 9:35Album Only
  3. Improvisation and Fugue 6:52£0.79  Buy MP3 

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not the best performance of the concerto, but the two little-known serialist pieces will hold some attraction for Schnittke fans 2 Feb. 2011
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This disc highlights the Russian pianist Victoria Lyubitskaya in three pieces by Alfred Schnittke.

First up is the Concerto for Piano and Strings (1979), one of the Schnittke's greatest works. It is a work of polystylism, being a combination of variation, sonata, and cyclic form, with one theme related to Orthodox chant and another a twelve-tone series with tonal features. Yet this is not the zany or bitterly comical Schnittke found in many works of this era, but a powerful musical drama. Near the beginning of the soloist declares some noble chords, but as the piece proceeds is knocked about by one portion of the strings and supported by another. The pianist reiterates those chords at the climax of the piece, leaving us with the comforting thought that, in spite of the battle's horror, no ground has been lost. We are left with a mysterious coda. In spite of the liberal use of dissonance, this concerto can be something of a crowd-pleaser, especially in the furious ostinato a third of the way in.

Mark Gorenstein leads the Russian State Orchestra here and the performance lasts 27:44. There are numerous other recordings of this concerto, at least 13, and with wildly differing timings. Roland Pöntinen and company on a BIS disc clocks in at 20:30, and Irina Schnittke et al. on an Ondine release are about the same. Viktoria Postnikova and company on an Apex disc, which I now treat as the reference recording, comes to 26:33. I'm partial to the longer timings, so Lyubitskaya et al. do fine in that respect, but I demand clarity, and unfortunately this recording doesn't provide that. The ostinato, for example, is rather muddled.

The remaining two pieces are for solo piano and date from 1965, the middle of Schnittke's brief serialist phrase. "Variations on one Chord" is the more stereotypical abstract of this, though it alternates between clearly defined morose and zesty moods. The Improvisation and Fugue, on the other hand, has an attractive pinwheeling shape and shows off the virtuosity of the performer.

Unfortunately, there's only a bit over 40 minutes of music on this disc, though enough budget-priced copies are floating around. Still, even with the lesser performance of the concerto and the short timing, Schnittke completists will want to pick up this disc for the two 1960s pieces. If rigorous Schnittke pieces are ignored these days in favour of "(K)ein Sommernachstraum" or "Mozart a la Haydn" relative fluff, then serial Schnittke is doubly ignored.
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