ALFRED SCHNITTKE (1934-1998): Requiem for Soloists, Chorus and Instrumental Ensemble, 3 Sacred Hymns for Chorus.
Catalogue Number: 02T055
Description: It's good to have a new recording of this powerful, deeply personal, and important work in Schnittke's output in the catalogue - it's been a while. The composer originally conceived of a work in memory of his mother, who died in 1972, but his early ideas for that ended up in his bleak, harrowing Piano Quintet, and his full-scale requiem mass waited until 1975. The work has its polystylistic aspects - the composer pulls out all the stops for the wildly dissonant, cluster-laden Dies irae, and there is a deliberately jarring rhythmic passage in the Credo which must have seemed outrageous in 1970s Soviet Russia, but aside from these and the subtly employed electric guitars, much of the work is a serious, intensely moving and restrained setting of the traditional Requiem Mass. Apart from the brief moments of apocalyptic high drame, the piece is mainly dark and lamenting, even lugubrious; there is no jubilation in the Sanctus, nor repose in the Benedictus, which are, however, beautiful and prayerful; the four movements beginning with the Hostias and ending with the Agnus Dei are quite conventional and solemnly liturgical in mood. The three brief Sacred Hymns from a decade later are gently meditative and prayerful throughout, with more of the Orthodox church tradition than the Catholic in their chant-based influence, such as it is in the case of either work. Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha, Monika Korybalska, Agnieszka Kuk (sopranos), Olga Maroszek (alto), Dominik Sutowicz (tenor), Chorus of the Faculty of Music of the University of Rzeszów, Instrumental Ensemble of the Artur Malawski Philharmonic in Rzeszów; Bożena Stasiowska-Chrobak.