Lutosławski Quartet & Erato Alakiozidou - LIGHT OVER DARKNESS
- 01 – Schnittke – Piano Quintet Op. 108 I. Moderato
- 02 – Schnittke – Piano Quintet Op. 108 II. In tempo di Valse
- 03 – Schnittke – Piano Quintet Op. 108 III. Andante
- 04 – Schnittke – Piano Quintet Op. 108 IV. Lento
- 05 – Schnittke – Piano Quintet Op. 108 V. Moderato pastorale
- 06 – Schnittke – Piano Quartet in A minor (after Mahler)
- 07 – Kancheli – Piano Quartet In L’istesso Tempo
LUTOSŁAWSKI QUARTET & ERATO ALAKIOZIDOU – LIGHT OVER DARKNESS
The music of Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998) and Giya Kancheli (b.1935) was shaped by the history of the Soviet Union and the politics of Moscow. Both grew up in Stalin’s era, yet neither composer was Russian – Kancheli is Georgian and Schnittke had a German mother and German-speaking Jewish father.
Both Kancheli and Schnittke have highly distinctive styles; apart from the deep personal feelings they express in various ways, they conserve silence as a key colour in their musical canvases.
These are works which combine the contemporary expressive vocabulary of postmodernism, with the historical narrative of the last three centuries of Western Music. Moments of amazing tension are juxtaposed with passages of fragile introspection.
Schnittke’s Piano Quartet (1988) was composed out of Mahler’s sketch for the unfinished second movement of his student Piano Quartet written in the mid 1870s. While Schnittke sometimes clearly departs from the Mahler original, much of the time it is quite clearly present, often with additional material accumulating round it – chromatic chords, dense canonic treatments – to give the effect of seeing an object through obscure glass or hearing music under water.
If Schnittke’s music is often in uneasy dialogue with that of the Austro-German tradition, the work of Giya Kancheli seems set apart from that tradition, linked rather with Pärt and Górecki. Like Schnittke’s Piano Quintet, Kancheli’s In L’istesso Tempo has a mournful tone, but while Schnittke expresses a personal grief, Kancheli’s is more universal. In a preface to the score Kancheli tells the listener to expect “threads of sorrow caused by the imperfections of the world”.
Pianist Erato Alakiozidou hails from Thessaloniki and has performed internationally in countries including Italy, Serbia, Turkey, Poland and the UK. She has pioneered a number of projects including international music festival Synthermia, contemporary music ensemble Idée Fixe, non-profit organisation Beartive, and the Tangos a cuatro Quartet.
Booklet in English, German and French.
Program notes by Hugh Collins Rice.
“This is a recording of extraordinary quality, the brilliance of the performers’ insight being fully matched by the outstanding quality of the sound”.
Gramophone - Ivan Moody / January 2018
“The Piano Quintet is one of Schnittke’s darkest, most haunting works... the sheer intensity of this chamber version is utterly gripping, and the combination of the young Greek pianist Erato Alakiozidou and the Lutosławski Quartet is electrifying. They treat the music with reverence, certainly, but they are also not afraid to mould it, to take it and make its very personal pain their own. It is not every pianist who can make the obvious waltz-like gestures of the second-movement Tempo di valse resonate as Alakiozidou does, and not every string quartet who – and here one thinks of the intensity of the Penderecki of the 1960s – can bring such tension to a cluster resolving on to a unison. More than this, there is a sense of the overall shape of the work, an awareness of the details that go to make up the whole, that is truly astounding – one of the most amazing moments is the descent into sheer blackness at the end of the third movement, with the sudden shaft of light provided by a simple major chord. Odradek’s magnificent recording has much to do with this, of course, but such a breathtaking performance would, I think, survive in a much worse acoustic environment...
Complementing the two Schnittke works is the piano quartet In l’istesso tempo by Giya Kancheli. A work of elegant mournfulness, it is the perfect companion here, and performed with tremendous sensitivity. This is a recording of extraordinary quality, the brilliance of the performers’ insight being fully matched by the outstanding quality of the sound, and there are excellent booklet notes by Hugh Collins Rice.”
“… reunites Schnittke’s quartet and quintet for piano with the quartet “In l’istesso tempo” by the Georgian Giya Kancheli… Schnittke’s quintet was inspired by his mother’s death. It has four movements of mourning and one, the last, which is almost a box of hopeful music. Light triumphing over the darkness.”
O Globo / Fachos de Luz / March 2018
“... reunites Schnittke's quartet and quintet for piano with the quartet "In l'istesso tempo" by the Georgian Giya Kancheli... Schnittke's quintet was inspired by his mother's death. It has four movements of mourning and one, the last, which is almost a box of hopeful music. Light triumphing over the darkness.”
“Giya Kancheli’s Piano Quartet “In istesso tempo” (1998) is in the same romantic-expressionist vein. Twenty minutes of crepuscular landscapes succeeding each other: alternately vehement, tragic, desperate, but also dreamy or ethereal, it perfectly complements Schnittke’ remarkable pieces.”
Classica / Sarah Léon / March 2018
"A dark piece in which we catch echoes of Mahler and Shostakovich, Alfred Schnittke's Piano Quintet (1972-1976) is certainly a masterpiece. Five movements stamped with the seal of death follow one another implacably: four of them slow as laments, while the second, a squeaky waltz which slowly overturns and ends up as a lugubrious dirge, constitutes, if you want, the exception. In the finale, a soothing melody in the higher range, composed almost exclusively over two notes, brings a ray of light on a dissonant bed of lower strings before a final waltz reminder, as a memory of the Imperial Vienna swallowed by the war.
The Piano Quartet (1988) appears like the anamorphosis of a quartet barely sketched by Mahler in his youth. Schnittke chooses to make us hear the Mahlerian material initially distorted, loaded with parasitic lines and dissonant chords, over a piano ostinato which recalls the obsessive motif of Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel, before gradually revealing the embryonic melody of the original.
Giya Kancheli's Piano Quartet "In istesso tempo" (1998) is in the same romantic-expressionist vein. Twenty minutes of crepuscular landscapes succeeding each other: alternately vehement, tragic, desperate, but also dreamy or ethereal, it perfectly complements Schnittke’ remarkable pieces."