Alfred Harrievich Schnittke (1934-1998)

Cello Concerto No. 1 (1986)

Posted in Recordings by R.A.D. Stainforth on August 5, 2011

Natalia Gutman, cello
USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra
Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, conductor

Schnittke’s first cello concerto was written during a near fatal time in his life, after having suffered a severe stroke in 1985, during which his heart stopped three times. Upon recovery he completed the concerto, the music becoming more dissonant and discordant, with the melodies more contorted.

The first cello concerto was a monumental endeavour for large orchestra, and approximately 40 minutes in duration. The work was written for Schnittke’s close friend, Russian cellist Natalia Gutman. The solo part is most feverish and virtuosic, exhausting the performer both technically and emotionally. The last, fourth, movement creates an unusual structural progression, ending in what feels like a celestial, hymn-like prayer. Schnittke himself said: Suddenly I was given this finale from somewhere, and I’ve just written it down.


5 Responses

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  1. Emily Brungo said, on August 5, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Damn. I think I have to start following you just so I get a nice vitamin shot of culture every once in a while. I have no idea who in the world Alfred Schnittke is. I’m gonna go get educated.
    BTW, thanks for popping on over.

    • R.A.D. Stainforth said, on August 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm

      Thank you, Emily, for your comment, and for visiting this rather serious blog, which is basically a kind of card index to help me write a book about Schnittke. Crazee name, crazee guy!

  2. hotshot bald cop said, on August 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I didn’t know that.

  3. doctor said, on October 10, 2011 at 9:53 am

    This post could not be more correct

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