ZIMBALIST Tango from Sarasateana for violin and piano
RAVEL Pièce en forme de habanera
OLTARZEWSKI Weather Music
CRUMB Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale)
SCHOENBERG Pierrot lunaire, Op. 21 Part 1
SCHOENBERG Pierrot lunaire, Op. 21 Part 2
SCHOENBERG Pierrot lunaire, Op. 21 Part 3
BACH Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D minor
PAGANINI Quartet in A minor: Recitative and Aria
HSU String Quartet "Fontainebleau": Chorale and Variation
BARRIÈRE Sonata No. 4 in G major
RACHMANINOFF Moments musicaux, Op. 16: 4. Presto
SCHNITTKE Sonata No. 1 for Cello and Piano
John-Henry Crawford, cello
Elena Jivaeva, piano
Performed on Saturday, April 26, 2014
Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia
Alfred Schnittke's music is distinct in the context of Soviet composers in that it reflects influences from both east and west. Much of this can be attributed to Schnittke's time in Vienna, where as a teenager he had his first profound musical experiences with composers such as Mozart and Schubert. Following his studies at the Moscow Conservatory he spent the majority of his life in Russia, where his reputation solidified as a musical heir to Dmitri Shostakovich (though his appreciation in the West continues to exhibit a mercurial ebb and flow).
Comparisons between Schnittke and Shostakovich are not at all uncommon, particularly their contributions to the great Russian cello literature that includes works by Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Miaskovsky. But it is perhaps Shostakovich's viola sonata of 1975, his final completed work, which lays the appropriate foundation for Schnittke's cello masterpiece, published only three years later. Both have slow, deeply probing outer movements that bookend a devilish middle movement, although Schnittke passes over Shostakovich's biting sarcasm and instead unleashes unbridled emotions rarely heard in the sonata repertoire. Shostakovich's influence is certainly present but the sonata is pure Schnittke.
This performance was part of Curtis's All-School Project, "Russia: A Land and Its Influence."