Music Web International: outstanding.
Early on in his career, the violin became an immensely important instrument for Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998). He developed a remarkable skill in composing for the instrument, resulting in a number of highly successful works of which several have been gathered on this disc. During the 1960s, a time when the violin was not the preferred instrument for the avant-garde as it carried too much historical ballast, Schnittke used it as tool for experimentation developing polystylism, an incorporation of historical sources or techniques into a modernistic context.
An early polystylistic work was Quasi una sonata, one of Schnittke's best-known works largely due to its narrative character; Schnittke tells a story filled with contrasts and drama. The version recorded here is that for violin and chamber orchestra. Another violin work – here in an orchestral version – is the Suite in the Old Style, a modern-day pastiche reminiscent of Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite and Grieg's suite From Holberg's Time. Moz-Art à la Haydn with the subtitle 'Play on music' also centres on the violin, using thematic material by Mozart in a manner inspired by Haydn's Farewell Symphony. Closing the disc is the Concerto Grosso No. 6, a chamber concerto influenced by the neo-classical tradition in which the violin and the piano share the limelight.
On this 22nd disc in the BIS Schnittke Edition, the fascinating composer's writing for violin is presented by Ulf Wallin, who appears on a number of BIS titles. Wallin worked intimately with Alfred Schnittke, especially during the preparations for the recordings of the composer's violin sonatas, and is here supported by the vibrant Tapiola Sinfonietta and pianist/conductor Ralf Gothóni, a doyen of Finnish musical life.