Schnittke's Piano Quintet, a creative response to his mother's death, is an austere, haunting work full of grief and tenderness that marks one of his early ventures into polystylistic writing. The opening piano solo is unique, a spare statement of puzzlement in the face of tragedy. It gives way to a waltz, as if recapturing a lost past, then the graceful dance melody literally disintegrates as the strings venture off into other regions, vainly trying to reassemble the theme and failing. At the end of its touching five movements the music's despair is transformed into serene, hard-won acceptance. Shostakovitch's 15th Quartet, his final statement in that form, premiered just months before his death. It's six slow movements are shot through with contemplative sadness and regret. The music is so rich in texture and substance that attention never flags.
This CD accompanied BBC Music Magazine Vol. 25 No. 9. In our June issue, we enjoy an exclusive interview with Sir Mark Elder as the Hallé’s conductor turns 70 and present a free cover CD of the orchestra performing Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, ‘The Inextinguishable’.
This has the look of a career-making recording from Scots violinist Nicola Benedetti, putting her up against difficult repertory that diverges from the crowd-pleasing fare that formed the basis of her career up to this album. It would have been hard to predict just how well she pulls off her task here; few could have heard the profound interpreter of Russian music in the Italia and Silver Violin collections from earlier in the 2010s. The Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 99, is an emotionally thorny work in five movements anchored by a tense passacaglia in the middle. The composer withheld it from publication during the period of renewed Stalinist repression in the late 1940s. It was premiered in 1955 by David Oistrakh, and in endurance and elevated tone even if not quite in lyrical grandeur, Benedetti brings that master to mind. Sample the Stravinskian "Burlesque" finale for a sense of how Benedetti gets outside herself here. The Glazunov Violin Concerto, Op. 82, is a more stable work, rooted in pre-WWI conservatory traditions, and Benedetti's reading is nothing short of letter-perfect.
"Neeme Järvi was one of the busiest stars on the international conducting scene. (…) From the early '60s, Järvi took a leading role in the musical life of his homeland. In 1963 he assumed the directorship of the Estonian Radio & Television Orchestra, his first important post. He also founded the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, and for 13 years was the chief conductor of Opera House Estonia in Tallinn. From 1976 to 1980 he was chief conductor and artistic director of the Estonian State Symphony Orchestra, then in its infancy. By the late 1970s his fame had spread throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and he received favorable notices for his appearances in the West…
A major release at the start of Britten’s anniversary celebrations. Britten’s long friendship with cellist Mstislav Rostropovich was one of the most inspiring and fruitful musical collaborations in history. It led directly to the composition of some of the most important works for cello of the twentieth century.
Shostakovich jazz music? Taken at face value, this CD is nothing of the sort. Shostakovich's lively and endearing forays into the popular music of his time were just that, and light years away from the work of real jazz masters such as, say Jelly Roll Morton or Duke Ellington And yet they do say something significant about Shostakovich's experience of jazz, as a comparison of these colourful, Chaplinesque Jazz Suite Suites with roughly contemporaneous music by Gershwin Milhaud, Martinu MartinJ, Roussel and others will prove.