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Customer Review

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As you would expect with two people sitting at the one piano..., 21 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Schnittke: Concerto For Piano Four Hands & Concerto For Piano And Strings (Audio CD)
...keyboard textures in the `Concerto for piano four hands & chamber orchestra' can be pretty dense at times - clusters tonal and non-tonal, hammered and whispered - are very much part of the vocabulary from the start and the extreme registers are of course featured more than is usual. But, with a percussion section that includes tubular bells, celesta, cymbals, bass drums and tam-tam, the `chamber' orchestra has enough weight to hold its own and there is no lack of balance between soloists and ensemble. But nor is there any muddiness here: for one thing the piano and orchestra spend little time actually playing together and there is sufficient space and variation in the use of the resources to avoid the overwrought quality that modern music doesn't always avoid when using orchestral rather than chamber resources.
The `Concerto for piano & strings' starts more sweetly and quietly than the first piece with the piano almost hesitant as it introduces the main motif of the piece - a single note repeated perhaps a dozen times before resolving upwards through a major second to a minor third. This motif is taken up later by the massed strings which try to turn it into a kind of anthemic cadence - an effort thwarted by dissonant notes in their own scoring and by hammered nontonal clusters from the piano - is it supporting the strings with reckless overenthusiasm or wildly attacking them? Not all is blood and thunder, however. There are quiet lyrical passages from the piano which plays solo at some length and there are spacious passages from the strings where pizzicato and special bowing techniques produce a sound of mysterious disquiet recalling for me the wonderful `allegro misterioso' of Berg's `Lyric suite'.
The tonal world here ranges from straightforward consonance, through extended tonality to the most aggressively hammered dissonant clusters and, though both pieces are highly individualistic, lovers of Messiaen, Ives, Shostakovich will be at home with this enjoyable disc which, though a little short at 47' 26" is still a bargain and a good introduction for the Schnittke-cautious.
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Initial post: 8 Oct 2011 21:17:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 Oct 2011 21:19:22 BDT
thks for the good review - however , how do these works compare in the wider context or canon of fellow russian composers or indeed amongst the 20th C composer you name? the Schnittke cd s i have of other works, indicate a clear lineage from the recent russian masters of yes - Shostakovich in particular but fench sittg aside - are these works of a comparable standard to Prokofievs + Shostakovich piano concertos ? Bartoks also? ie percussive, dazzling, sardonic yet innovate. which is asking a lot of their successors such as Schnittke, Kancheli et al i know.
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