Schnittke, Shchedrin, Shostakovich

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COMPOSERS: Schnittke,Shchedrin,Shostakovich
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Sonata for Violin and Chamber Orchestra.Music for Strings, Oboes, Horns and Celesta; Two Pieces for String Octet
PERFORMER: Moscow Virtuosi/Vladimir Spivakov (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 61189 2
The affinity of style between the music of Shostakovich and Schnittke is shared by a third, Rodion Shchedrin, in RCA’s most recent release of Russian music conducted by Vladimir Spivakov. Together, the ‘three Ss’ make an interesting triangle, its apex Shostakovich, with Schnittke and Shchedrin exploring his experimental and conservative legacies respectively.

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Having, by coincidence, written the booklet notes for this disc some months ago, and rehearing it now, I was struck by the finesse displayed by the stunning Moscow Virtuosi, and Spivakov’s power to render the endemic satire of Russian art without recourse to sarcasm, except as needed. This is the case in the second of the Two Pieces for String Octet, searing like an acid burn. At the same time, the neo-Baroque limits of the first are respected, and delivered with a quality of phrasing that is also found in Shchedrin’s reticent Music for Strings, Oboes, Horns and Celesta. The grotesque elements in Schnittke’s Sonata for Violin and Chamber Orchestra also find their place within the classical framework of the piece as a whole, with Spivakov himself as soloist. Nicholas Williams