One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

absolutely thrilling

immediacy and spontaneity

Schumann Lieder

24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs

‘Box of Delights.’

J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue

a most welcome issue

I enjoyed it tremendously

the finest traditions of the house

music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message

ground-breaking, winning release

screams quality

Surprise of the month

English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998)
Concerto Grosso No. 1 for two violins, harpsichord, prepared piano and strings (1977) [27:57]
Concerto Grosso No. 2 for violin, cello and orchestra (1982) [33:46]
Tatiana Grindenko, Gidon Kremer (violins: 1)
Oleg Kagan (violin: 2)
Natalia Gutman (cello)
Moscow Philharmonic Soloists/Yuri Bashmet (1);
USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (2)
rec. live, Grand Hall, Philharmonic Society, Leningrad, 30 May 1988 (1); Moscow, 1986 (2)
ALTO ALC1341 [61:54]

Schnittke's German family roots were to be unearthed by world events. After some years in Vienna under Russian rule he moved to Moscow in 1948. He studied at the city's Conservatory and became acquainted with the music of the Second Viennese School. In 1962 he began working on film scores (vol. 1 vol. 2), an industry from which he sustained a living. His concert music was for many years not welcomed by the Soviet artistic world. From the 1970s he was hit by a series of strokes that eventually brought about almost complete paralysis. He died at the age of 63 in Hamburg where he had moved in 1990.

As a listening experience his music remains very modern sounding. His 'polystylism' drew on a sort of collage approach with - we are told - direct quotations and original invention. Bach and Vivaldi are recalled but through a bitter filter with acidic dissonance and busy avant-garde textures. He was a prolific composer despite his film work and medical problems. His catalogue suggests an incessantly insistent drive to create. There are, for example, ten symphonies (Bis, Melodiya, Chandos), three piano concertos (Capriccio) and a considerable quantity of piano music (Delphian). He was also partial to the Concerto Grosso as a form and wrote six including one with variant orchestration:-

No. 1 for two violins, prepared piano, harpsichord and 21 strings (1977)
No. 1 for flute, oboe, harpsichord, prepared piano and string orchestra (1988 version)
No. 2 for violin, cello and symphony orchestra (1981–1982)
No. 3 for two violins, harpsichord, celesta, piano and 14 strings (1985)
No. 4 for violin, oboe, harpsichord and orchestra (1988) (Symphony No. 5: I)
No. 5 for violin, piano and orchestra (1990–1991)
No. 6 for piano, violin and string orchestra (1993)

The first two of these figure in sessions from the 1980s on this far from anodyne bargain price disc. The first Concerto Grosso is heard in a live performance in Leningrad - there's a cough in the penultimate Rondo and applause after the final Postlude. The music seethes with vitriol and disquiet. Edginess and abrasion arch over the whole score - for example in the steely buzzing of the Toccata (II) and elsewhere when baroque manners meet sour twentieth century disillusion. Vivaldi is the embarkation point for the Rondo. This is a virtuoso performance as may be expected from Grindenko, Kremer and Bashmet - the latter surrendering his viola in favour of the baton. Understandably the music is met with applause which shows that old resistances have fallen away - at least in enlightened Leningrad. The six minute longer Concerto Grosso No. 2 is in four movements rather than the six of the First Concerto. The conductor is Gennady Rozhdestvensky who recorded the first four symphonies for Melodiya. The confident performance is alert. It brings out the lightness, carillon and almost Caribbean rumba qualities of the opening Andantino. The concentrated self-contained melancholic calm of the Pesante second movement is lovingly communicated. The Allegro (III) delights, with its airy flutes, but its mood changes so that by the close a raucous catastrophe has taken over. The long finale finds pensive quietude and there is much grateful introspective writing for the two distinguished soloists. The work's earlier pages include Schnittke's trademark scarifying dissonance but in this last movement he finds healing plains and delectable mountains.

Both performances are appealingly intense. The recording quality and the soloistic writing - which extends beyond the named solo instruments - does nothing to undermine this.

Peter Avis squeezes plenty of solid factual information into the three-fold insert. Artist profiles are also provided.

Schnittke here delivers rough trade and sophistication. Healing beatitudes meet enigmatic excoriation. Fascinating music, tangy performances and immediacy of sound. A risk-free way in to Schnittke's uneasy and provocative art.

Rob Barnett



We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger