Though not perhaps the first disc for postmodernist neophytes, seasoned listeners looking to fill out their Alfred Schnittke shelf will have to try this Fuga Libera disc. Though the Concerto for piano and string orchestra that opens it has been recorded several times before, the two works that conclude it, the Variations on one Chord and the Improvisation and Fugue for solo piano, have only been recorded once each. The performances here are consistently convincing. Pianist Victoria Lubitskaya turns in consummately musical, amazingly virtuosic, and profoundly moving performances of all three pieces. She never loses concentration in the single-movement concerto, holding its many changes in texture, tone, and tempo together as episodes in a single musical experience. The two solo piano pieces are just as fine. Lubitskaya's Variations move easily from the nearly tonal to the almost atonal and her Improvisation and Fugue ineluctably progresses from the weird and fantastic to the controlled and compelling. Accompanied with strength and confidence by the Russian State Academy Orchestra under the direction of Mark Gorenstein and recorded in appropriately evocative digital sound, this disc should be heard by anyone interested in post-modernist Soviet music.
Alfred Schnittke: Concerto for Piano; Variations on One Chord; Improvisation & Fugue Review
by James Leonard