Alfred Schnittke: Quasi una sonata; Suite in the Old Style; Moz-Art à la Haydn; Concerto Grosso No. 6

Alfred Schnittke: Quasi una sonata; Suite in the Old Style; Moz-Art à la Haydn; Concerto Grosso No. 6

by Ulf WallinUlf Wallin


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Though you could hardly call it "humorous," this selection of some of Alfred Schnittke's most popular works makes for a great entry point in getting to know this composer and his music. In his typically dour works, Schnittke's style consistently borders on the fringes of morbidity. The music presented here, though -- some of which has a strong neo-Classical flavor -- is of a much less serious oeuvre than is typical. It is also easily accessible to those who don't consider themselves to be Schnittke devotees. "Quasi una Sonata," which Schnittke completed in 1968 as a work for piano and violin, comes into full blossom here as the composer's own arrangement for chamber orchestra (1987). Wallin, Gothóni, and the Tapiola Sinfonietta give a committed performance: highly dramatic, urgent, and clear. There is a cosmopolitan blending of styles in Schnittke's 1977 work "Moz-Art à la Haydn"; it is a work that has in many ways foreshadowed the great interconnectedness of our society today. Tero Latvala and Meri Englund give a richly colored performance of this pastiche, drawing out the feelings of nostalgia evoked by the pieces of many quotations (including the opening of Mozart's "Symphony No. 40" and Haydn's "Farewell Symphony"). The joint efforts of Vladimir Spivakov and Vladimir Milman produced an outstanding chamber orchestra arrangement of the "Suite in the Old Style" in 1972, 15 years after it was originally composed. The composition's strong, Baroque-like hemiola figures are reminiscent of a quasi-Handelian style, while the active inner voices are more akin to Mozart. The Tapiola Sinfonietta performs the individual dance movements with a decadent, refined elegance; the sweet, lyrical tone of the principal oboist deserves special recognition for navigating the tricky waters of the "Fugue." A haunting recording of the "Concerto Grosso No. 6" rounds out this disc. The last work he composed in this form, Schnittke returns here to a deep and dark compositional palette. Gothóni's paintbrush is correspondingly thick; he molds the tone clusters into thick, cavernous sounds. BIS, which has continued to release a number of Schnittke recordings, adds another fine disc to the mix -- a great introduction to his music for anyone courageous enough to try it.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/30/2006
Label: Bis
UPC: 7318590014370
catalogNumber: 1437
Rank: 75473


  1. Quasi una sonata, for violin & chamber orchestra
  2. Moz-Art à la Haydn, for 2 violins & 11 strings
  3. Suite (Sonata) in the Old Style, for violin & piano (or harpsichord)
  4. Concerto Grosso No. 6 for piano, violin & string orchestra

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ulf Wallin   Primary Artist

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