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Schnittke Discoveries

Yellow Sound
Piano Preludes
Variations for string quartet

Drosostalitsa Moraiti, piano
Alexander Ivashkin, cello
Ensemble Pentaèdre de Montréal
Jeremy Bell, conductor
Nelly Lee, soprano
Bolshoi Soloists’ Ensemble
Alexander Lazarev, conductor
Liora Grodnikaite, soprano
Oleh Krysa, violin
Natalia Lomeiko, violin
Konstantin Boyarsky, viola

Toccata TOCC0091 [TT: 78:15]

There are some weird and wonderful sounds in this compilation of unfamiliar, and unrecorded elsewhere, works which have been studied in the specialist Russian Music Department at Goldsmiths, London, which houses the Alfred Schnittke Archivew. Strangest of all is the complex Yellow Sound (1974), a half-hour experimental interpretation of a Kandinsky 'libretto', taken from the staged premiere in Moscow.

For piano, there are early preludes, and for string quartet a fragment, aiming at a new simplicity, written with great difficulty with his left hand after Schnittke was incapacitated by severe strokes at the end of his life.

The performances and recordings are all fine, with documentation as to be expected from a leading academic institution, the main essay by Alexander Ivashkin, lead professor at Goldsmiths and cello soloist in the major Dialogue (1967), which led to Schnittke's polystylic explorations juxtaposing different musics.

A significant addition to the Schnittke discography and well worth considering by 'completist' collectors.

Peter Grahame Woolf


Illustration: Ivashkin with Schnittke & his wife Ir1na