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Schnittke: Concerto Grosso no.1, Cello Concerto (APE)

Schnittke: Concerto Grosso No. 1/Cello Concerto (APE)
Schnittke: Concerto Grosso No. 1/Cello Concerto (APE)

Composer: Alfred Schnittke
Performer: Gidon Kremer, Tatiana Grindenko, Natalia Gutman
Orchestra: Moscow Philarmonic Society Soloist Ensemble, The USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Yuri Bashmet, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Moscow Studio
Size: 292 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. 1. Prelude
02. 2. Toccata
03. 3. Recitative
04. 4. Cadence
05. 5. Rondo
06. 6. Postlude
07. 1. Pesante. Moderato
08. 2. Largo
09. 3. Allegro vivace
10. 4. Largo

# Concerto Grosso No.1, for 2 violins, harpsichord, prepared piano & 21 strings
Composed by Alfred Schnittke
with Moscow Philharmonic Society Soloists Ensemble, Tatjana Grindenko, Gidon Kremer
Conducted by Yuri Bashmet

# Concerto for cello & orchestra No.1
Composed by Alfred Schnittke
Performed by USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra
with Natalia Gutman
Conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky

Essential recordings for Schnittke devotees

This release in the valuable new Moscow Studio Archives series includes the 1986 premiere recording of Schnittke’s “Cello Concerto No. 1” and a live 1988 recording of the well-known “Concerto Grosso No. 1” that is the earliest recording currently available, though certainly there must be an earlier recording of the 1977 composition somewhere.

Gidon Kremer and Tatiana Grindenko are the violinists on CG1, with Yuri Bashmet conducting a Moscow ensemble live in St. Petersburg. (This is the same recording as the one on the Col Legno Collage series Schnittke disc that was released in 2000 — it has an orange cover.) This is an impassioned version of Schnittke’s polystylistic work, which includes harpsichord and prepared piano, Baroque passages as well as a brief section of a tango. While essential for the Schnittke devotee, I would recommend the studio recording from later in 1988 in Berlin, also featuring Kremer and Grindenko, for someone looking for the single best version. (It can be found on the DG 20/21 Echo disc called CONCERTI GROSSI NOS. 1 & 5 — see my review.) While not as intense, it is much better recorded, with no noisy audience, and the orchestral playing is better.

The story for the Cello Concerto is similar. This is the first recording, by Natalie Gutman, the dedicatee, with Gennadi Rozhdestvensky conducting the USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra. Gutman had premiered the work live in Munich earlier in the year. While historic, and excellent in its own right, a much better 1999 recording was recently issued on the Chandos label, with Alexander Ivashkin on cello, and Valeri Polyansky conducting the Russian State Symphony Orchestra (paired with Schnittke’s Symphony No. 7 — see my review). Ivashkin’s tone is rich and singing, while Gutman is rawer, and Polyansky, who is gradually recording all of Schnittke’s symphonies for Chandos, leads the orchestra to a deeper and richer performance than Rozhdestvensky.

In summary then, these are important historic recordings, but not the first choice for either work.

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