ALFRED SCHNITTKE (1934-1998): Gogol Suite for 2 Pianos (arr. V. Borovikov), Concerto for Piano and Strings, 5 Aphorisms for Piano.

Catalogue Number: 11Q072

Label: Piano Classics

Reference: PCL0071

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: In 1975 Schnittke wrote incidental music for Yuri Lyubimov's 'The Census List', an avant garde theatrical production consisting of excerpts from Gogol's works. He was an inspired choice for the task, with his gift for taking the familiar and twisting it into something surreal with the darkest of deadpan humor ideally matching the brooding menace and diabolical absurdity of banal everyday surroundings and events portrayed in the texts. We offered Rozhdestvensky's suite from the score last year (06O073), and it has to be admitted that Borovikov's transcription of this extravagant exhibition of bizarrerie is far less weird than the orchestral version, but one benefit is that the clearer lines of the keyboard arrangement allows greater enjoyment of the sly humor of the composer's transformations and juxtapositions. Nobody escapes caricature here; familiar works of Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and just about everybody else get pilloried, combined with each other, decorated with raucous dissonances and assaulted with a hail of clusters. The original numbers - grotesque waltzes, a ponderous tragic processional, oblivious to the strident alarm bells that try to disrupt it - are equally original and ingenious. The under-recorded, bleak and searching late Aphorisms and Schnittke's polystylistic greatest hit make a useful coupling. Denys Proshayev (piano), Nadia Mokhtari (second piano), St. Petersburg String Soloists; Alexander Dmitriev.

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