- Sonata for cello & piano No.1
- Improvisation, for cello solo
- Sonata for cello & piano No. 2
- Musica nostalgica, for cello & piano
- Epilogue from "Peer Gynt", for cello, piano & tape
This CD brings together five attractive works for cello and piano by Alfred Schnittke. The pieces, while demonstrating the stylistic diversity for which the composer is famous, largely share a tone of nostalgia, of wistfulness for what has been lost, or of anger at the fact of its loss. The two sonatas for cello and piano in particular bring together those strong feelings in alternating movements. The first sonata is reminiscent of Shostakovich in its unsettling juggling of extreme expressive elements, and it retains significant elements of tonality. The second is a darker work, and mostly dispenses with tonality, voicing its grief and ironic humor in an uncompromisingly astringent tonal language. The brief "Musica Nostalgica" has none of the bitterness of the sonatas -- it's a cheerfully skewed minuet that playfully rides roughshod over Baroque conventions. "Epilogue" for cello, piano, and tape, an excerpt from the ballet "Peer Gynt," is the album's most extreme example of Schnittke's polystylism. It uses grinding dissonance, melancholy Bergian atonality, and a taped wordless chorus murmuring untroubled consonances in the service of a unified and powerfully expressive whole. The fact that Schnittke can pull these diverse elements into a cohesive musical and emotional experience is a testimony to his skill and vision. Cellist Torleif Thedéen and pianist Roland Pöntinen give their all to the music. There is no question of their technical skills in pulling off these virtuosic pieces, and their investment in the music's expressive demands is fully persuasive. Thedéen is particularly eloquent in the music's anguished and elegiac improvisatory-sounding sections. The recorded sound is excellent -- clean and atmospheric, with good balance between the performers.