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Schnittke: Choir Concerto

Schnittke: Choir Concerto

1 septembre 2006
5.0 étoiles sur 5 1 commentaire client

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Format: CD
Alfred Garrievitch Schnittke, dont le père, issu d'une famille juive originaire de Russie, était né à Francfort et s'était installé en Union Soviétique en 1926, et dont la mère était une allemande de la Volga, est né en 1934 à Engels, Région de Saratov, URSS (Russie). Alfred Schnittke débuta ses études musicales en 1946 à Vienne où son père, journaliste et interprète, était alors en poste mais, en 1948, sa famille s'installa à Moscou, où Schnittke acheva ses études de composition au Conservatoire Tchaïkovski de Moscou en 1961, et où il eut en particulier comme professeurs Nikolaï Rakov (1908-1990) et Yevgeny Golubev (1910-1988). Initialement, la musique de Schnittke fut influencée par celle de Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), puis, après la visite de Luigi Nono (1924-1990) en URSS, par le sérialisme, comme le montre clairement sa « Music for Piano and Chamber Orchestra » (1964). Toutefois, insatisfait par ce qu'il considèrera avoir été un « rite de puberté », Schnittke créera très rapidement ce qui a été défini comme le « polystylisme », juxtaposition de différents styles de musique, comme en témoigne sa seconde Sonate pour violon et piano (1968), et qui deviendra de plus en plus épuré au fil des ans. Il eut des relations très étroites avec des interprètes comme Gidon Kremer, Yury Bashmet, Natalia Gutman, Gennady Rozhdestvensky et Mstislav Rostropovich, ainsi qu'avec le compositeur Arvo Pärt (né en 1935). De 1962 à 1972, Schnittke enseigna au conservatoire de Moscou.Lire la suite ›
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Amazon.com: 4.7 étoiles sur 5 6 commentaires
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Glorious 26 mars 2010
Par Christopher Culver - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: CD Achat vérifié
In exploring Alfred Schnittke's extensive output, I've generally thought of his work as two stylistic periods. On one hand, the music up to the end of the 1980s is zany, and he has a trademark way of taking a nice classical-sounding theme and then making it suddenly grotesque through dissonances. On the other hand, there's the slow and bleak music of his last years, after he suffered multiple strokes.

But Schnittke also had a deeply spiritual side that is, I think, much less widely appreciated. These works are his mystical Symphony No 4 and his a cappella choral works, of which the Choir Concerto (1984-85) is the most ambitious. The Choir Concerto is a setting in four movements of devotional poetry by the 10th-century Armenian monk Gregory of Narek, in Russian translation. Just the dramatic titles of the movements ought to intrigue many to seek out this work: I. "O Master of all living, bestowing priceless gifts upon us...", II. "I, an expert in human passions, composed this collection of songs, where every verse is filled to the brim with black sorrow." III. "To all who grasp the meaning of these mournful words..." IV. "Complete this work which I began in hope and with Your name..."

Schnittke's writing for choir is unlike anything that I've ever heard before. The division of the choir into multiple voices varies over the course of the work, but throughout the sound is of downright orchestral fullness. The mood goes from loud and confident in the first movement to repentant in the middle two movements, to reconciliation and peace in the fourth. The choir brings the world to an end with a luminous series of Amens, releasing the listener from a long and powerful emotional journey.

Whatever one might think about Schnittke's other music, I can't imagine any classical fan not loving this remarkable piece. That there is only 43 minutes of music on the disc might give some pause, but the Russian State Symphonic Cappella and Valery Polansky give a flawless performance with excellent sonics.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Breathtaking 28 mai 2010
Par G.D. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: CD Achat vérifié
Schnittke's Choir concerto is surely one of the masterpieces of the second half of the twentieth century. It is also Schnittke at his most approachable, although the relatively dense textures do not avoid putting some demands on the listener (not to speak of the substantial demands it puts on the performers). It is a mournful and dark work, but the vocal lines are so imposing and the music so breathtakingly radiant that it is guaranteed to bowl you over. So I can understand Chandos's decision to eschew a coupling, although issuing a full price disc with only 44 minutes of music will easily strike potential customers as stingy.

The Russian State Symphonic Cappella under Valery Polyansky is simply unsurpassable. They give us a marvelous performance, singing of conviction, fervor, power and momentum, gloriously rich and warm; more opulently romantic than their rivals on disc, perhaps, but that is hardly a criticism in a work like this. In short, this is as close one can get to perfect choral singing, and (they and) Polyansky display an utterly convincing grasp of the inner workings of this piece. The sound is resonant (the way it should be), clear and well balanced. Overall, this is a great achievement and nothing short of a mandatory acquisition.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Not the Swedish Radio Choir, but the best on disc 11 octobre 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: CD
I too had the fabulous opportunity to hear the Swedish Radio Choir sing this piece in concert. I agree that this is not the polished version that we heard from the live choir. However, after having searched through the other options, I have found that this one is the best recorded version. The others have all seemed thin and whistling compared to the robust and full tones of this choir. Dynamically, this choir is fantastic. Blend however, is not their forte. The highest soprano notes are painfully flat and strained.
I also searched for Strauss's Deutches Motet after this same concert and had similar results. I anxiously await the Swedish Radio Choir to record this superb piece (in my opinion, one of the greatest and most powerful choral works I have yet heard). For a Swedish Radio Choir performance of Schnittke, I recommend the Psalms of Repentance. The tuning and blend on that disc are exactly as we remember from the concert.
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 by far, the best recording of the choir concerto 10 mai 2003
Par Jason Brittsan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: CD
This album is, by far, the best recording of the Choir Concerto available today. In every other recording I've heard, the singers suffer pitch problems along with tempos that make no sense. The piece is meant to be a prayer... in this recording, the listener feels every word and experiences every emotion described in the text.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Russian Choral 1 novembre 2015
Par VonStupp - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: CD
Valery Polyansky’s performance of Alfred Schnittke’s Choir Concerto from 1991 initially reminds me of listening to Rachmaninoff’s or Tschesnokoff’s settings of Vespers, but you only have to continue listening to realize this is far from those romantic throwbacks to Russia’s long traditions of a cappella choral singing in the church.

Musically speaking, Schnittke’s tendency to repeat small thematic devices within a single tonal center throughout a movement, reminds me more of a minimalist technique put in a Russian choral setting, of which, is often obfuscated by violent choral outbursts in extreme registers, eventually ebbing back into a repetitive thematic flow. Also, I cannot decide if the “Russian” sound which permeates this work is coming from Schnittke’s writing for chorus or is coming from the singing of the Russian State Symphonic Cappella; my initial thought is Schnittke’s thick multi-part choral writing and poly-stylistic techniques contribute to the identifiable nationalistic sound, but I also think the RSSC’s sound is also rather singular compared to other choruses. The text is certainly distinct, by Gregory of Narek, a poet/monk who is still oft quoted and referred to by popes; I appreciate this different setting of religious text and its meditative quality. All of these aspects come together into a mélange of ideas, ones that won’t be appreciated by everyone (listen to examples before buying), but are certainly interesting and even moving at times.

The performance, this work was dedicated to this recording’s conductor and chorus a few years earlier, is fiery and committed. Since the 45-minute work is completely a cappella, difficulties of tuning would often be problematic with an amateur chorus, but these singers handle the work well, with occasional adjustments. The ensemble is passionate if not a tad screechy in the louder upper-registers of the women’s sections, but those difficult swings of register are tough for any recorded ensemble. The Sophia Cathedral is reverberant, which aids the impressively thick choral writing Schnittke sets, but tends to muddy the text a bit; luckily I don’t know the language well enough for this to be a deal breaker.

44 minutes is slim for a full-priced disc, especially since Chandos released the same work one-year later with a 15-minute filler and with the better known Danish singers. Since that time, a few more recordings of the Choir Concerto have popped up to compare to (the Holst Singers and the chorus of St. Ignatius Loyola for example), but most lack the passion of this dedicated chorus and are not afforded the spacious setting this performance was captured in. The high price of this recording is hardly recommendable, so I would compare to others, get from the marketplace, or download.
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