Schnittke - Complete Piano Music | Delphian DCD34131

Schnittke - Complete Piano Music


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Label: Delphian

Cat No: DCD34131

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 2

Release Date: 10th February 2014



Schnittke’s largest works for the piano are the three sonatas, which all date from the later part of his output. Piano Sonata No.1 (1987) is a substantial work by any standard, structured in four movements played without a break, and lasting upward of half an hour. The emotional journey of the piece is in many ways typical of the composer’s work in the years following his first stroke.

Piano Sonata No.2 (1990–91), written for Schnittke’s wife Irina, follows a more traditional three-movement pattern. The opening is rather sensuous and overtly ‘Romantic’, wistful and bittersweet, its delicate counterpoint recalling Berg’s Op.1 Sonata. Piano Sonata No.3 (1992), first performed by Boris Berman in 1996, is an example of what we might call Schnittke’s 'late style', pared down and without the extravagance of some of the works of the 1980s, though of similar intensity. It was his last work for solo piano.

The shorter works included here, which along with the sonatas comprise Schnittke’s entire published output for solo piano (including one piece for piano duet and another for six hands at one instrument), are mostly earlier than the sonatas, and are presented here in chronological order, with the cadenzas for four of Mozart’s piano concertos as a sort of appendix.

Simon Smith studied piano with Richard Beauchamp [to whom these discs are dedicated] and composition with Tom David Wilson. As a pianist he has performed many of the landmarks of the 20th-century piano repertoire, most notably many of Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke and the Piano Concerto and complete Etudes of György Ligeti. Following a performance of the latter he was acclaimed as ‘a phenomenon – nothing daunts him, technically or musically’ (The Scotsman).

"I remember vividly the first time I heard a piece of music by Schnittke... It is not an exaggeration to say that that moment changed my life and certainly turned on its head the way that I thought about music and its possibilities. Thereafter I avidly devoured as much of Schnittke’s music as I could get my hands on, and this recording is one of the results." - Simon Smith

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