Schnittke, PŠrt, Vasks, etc

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COMPOSERS: etc,Part,Schnittke,Vasks
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Time… and again
WORKS: Works by Schnittke, Pärt, Vasks,
PERFORMER: Vadim Gluzman (violin), Angela Yoffe (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1392
Schnittke’s complete violin/piano music has all been recorded before, most pieces several times, though perhaps not so handily collected together as on this new Stradivarius disc. The works typify Schnittke’s mastery of different period styles. Spanning as they do a stylistic gamut from the post-Expressionist ferocity of Quasi una Sonata to the neo-Rococo pleasantries of the Suite in Olden Style and the dazed fragmentary utterance of the late Third Sonata, they demand a considerable imaginative sympathy from their performers. D’Orazio and Nuti bring to them a clear enthusiasm and utter technical adequacy; their playing is efficient and musicianly rather than inspired. Direct comparison with Gluzman and Yoffe’s account of the Suite in Olden Style, however, shows up the Italian players’ innate ordinariness. On BIS, every phrase resounds with passion and sensitivity, and Yoffe’s sheer range of touch and colour are a marvel to hear. One might almost be listening to a different work: and though it’s little more than a pastiche, here it’s elevated to heights of poetry beyond any rival version. That sense of utterly focused commitment imbues even Pärt’s over-familiar Fratres and Spiegel im Spiegel with noble intensity. Vasks’s Little Summer Music is in a sense another suite ‘in olden style’, some of its movements sounding almost like Grieg. It makes an innocent contrast to Kancheli’s Time… and again, which comes with a superscription from Galatians and seems as empty and endlessly brooding as the Steppe, riven by occasional brutal outbursts that fade ever and anon to fluted despair. The piece may be far too long for what it has to say, however authentic its emotions, but Gluzman and Yoffe hold it on a razor-edged tension for most of that length. A really superb disc. Calum MacDonald

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