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Complete String Quartets

Alfred Schnittke

℗ 1998 Nonesuch Records 7559 79500

℗ 2012 barin.livejournal.com BR LLI 83876

Alfred Schnittke  1998  Complete String Quartets

Widely regarded as the Soviet Unions leading composer of the late 20th century, Alfred Schnittke (193498) achieved a reputation that came comparatively late in life but ultimately arrived with awards, honors, retrospectives, and major festivals worldwide. Despite years of governmental suppression, he was able to produce an enormous body of work. Schnittke composed symphonies, concerted works, concerti grossi, chamber music, film and ballet scores, as well as vocal works including opera.

Within this oeuvre, his string quartet music occupies a significant place, with six works in the idiom produced between 1966 and 1989. These compositions are gathered together for the first time on a two-CD set from Nonesuch performed by one of the composers most vigorous advocates, Kronos Quartet.

Defiantly nonconformist, his First Quartet is a serial work, and something of an avant-garde manifesto, while the Secondwritten 14 years later, and in a completely different styleis an expression of love for his Russian homeland, its vast landscape and its people, with allusions to ancient chants. The Canon is an homage to one of Schnittkes favorite composers, while the Third Quarteta product of his hallmark polystylistc periodcontains reminiscences of Beethoven, Orlando di Lasso, Shostakovich, and Wagner. The Fourth Quartet is a fresh approach to the style of the second Viennese school, one of his major influences. The Collected Songs is an arrangement of a portion of the composers Choir Concerto: a solemn and moving work that has been compared to Barber Adagio.

Born in 1934 in Engels, Schnittke completed his musical education in 1961 and joined the Union of Composers, and was appointed an instructor at the Moscow Conservatory in 1962, a post he held until 1972, after which he supported himself chiefly as a composer of film scores. In 1990, he moved to Hamburg, where he maintained dual German/Russian citizenship. Despite a series of strokes since 1985, his creative productivity remained undiminished through the early 1990s, until a more debilitating stroke in 1994 eventually forced him to stop composing. Schnittke passed away in 1998.

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