ALFRED SCHNITTKE (1934-1998): 12 Penitential Psalms for Mixed Choir, Voices of Nature for 10 Women's Voices and Vibraphone.
Catalogue Number: 04N079
Label: Hännsler Classic
Reference: CD 93.281
Description: The Psalms date from a few years after the composer's first debilitating stroke, the watershed event that heralded a new austerity and seriousness in his compositional style. They do not inhabit the world of dramatically pared-down simplicity of his last works, but the extravagant polystylism of his younger days is entirely absent. These emotionally powerful works derive a significant degree of inspiration from Russian Orthodox chant, and archaic devotional music in general. Their high degree of chromaticism and modality sets them apart from Western church traditions, and sparingly used but striking dissonances proclaim them as a product of the 20th century - a favorite trick of the composer's is to shatter a glowing sequence of consonant chords with a vicious grinding dissonance, to great dramatic effect. The cycle has a definite contour and direction, with conflict giving way to resignation in both texts and music, a sense of tonal resolution increasingly to the fore, ending with a withdrawn, wordless vocalise with a very tonal ending. The much earlier, brief 'Voices' consists of a series of accumulating, formless clusters that give way to chords - a striking effect that sounds like (but was not) a sketch for the later, far more profound and spiritually satisfying, cycle of Psalms. Russian (Cyrillic)-English texts. Jochen Schorer (vibraphone), SWR Vocal Ensemble Stuttgart; Marcus Creed.