Schnittke: Violin Sonata No. 3; Piano Concerto; Violin Concerto No. 3

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COMPOSERS: Schnittke
LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 3; Piano Concerto; Violin Concerto No. 3
PERFORMER: Mark Lubotsky (violin), Irina Schnittke (piano); Virtuosi di Kuhmo, Sibelius Academy Wind Players, Ralf Gothoni (piano, conductor)
CATALOGUE NO: ODE 893-2
The Sonata No. 3 for violin and piano of 1994, the one work here new to disc, falls well to the recent side of the basic divide in Schnittke’s output: the year of his first stroke in 1985. ‘Everything I have written since then differs from what went before,’ says the composer in a quotation which represents one of the few lucid moments in booklet notes apparently designed to give booklet notes a bad name.

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The Third Sonata’s dozen minutes, divided into a clear four-movement structure, will make surprising listening for those who know only the ‘polystylistic’ excitements of Schnittke’s pre-1985 style, these being entirely absent here. Underneath the at-times almost neo-classical surface, unrevealed anagrams apparently lurk. But the music’s simple, open gestures and spare textures make strangely riveting listening.

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Mark Lubotsky and Irina Schnittke, the Sonata’s original performers, provide, as one would expect, a lot more than the mere notes themselves. And the Finnish musicians on the rest of this disc offer well-played and suitably passionate accounts of piano and violin concertos from the late Seventies redolent with Romantic and other allusions, with Ralf Gothoni and Lubotsky respectively as soloists. Other labels, notably BIS, offer rival versions, but Postnikova and Rozhdestvensky on Erato sound indulgent in the Piano Concerto by comparison. Keith Potter