Frank Strobel

Alfred Schnittke: Film Music, Vol. 4

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Listeners familiar only with Alfred Schnittke's frequently spiky concert music may be taken off guard by the fluency with which he created film scores in a completely accessible vernacular aesthetic. Given the catholicity of languages he incorporated in his polystylism, though, it's not surprising that when required to, he could isolate an idiom and write music of a more conventional stylistic unity. While he does draw on a number of influences, including jazz, Baroque, and folk song, these are used in the way a traditional film composer might employ them, not in Schnittke's usual astonishing juxtapositions. What may be surprising is the genuinely memorable lyricism of this music -- these scores don't sound like they were casually knocked off, but are lovingly and carefully constructed, the product of an exceptionally fertile imagination. The scores for the Russian films by director Elem Klimow -- Sport, Sport, Sport (1970) and The Adventures of a Dentist (1965) -- have an easy lyricism and driving rhythmic energy that would make them attractive to fans of more traditional film soundtracks. Both pieces are notable for their inventive orchestrations, strong dramatic impulse, and seamless incorporation of elements of pop and European folk traditions. The two multi-movement suites are arranged by Frank Strobel who conducts the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin in stylish and lively performances. The sound of Capriccio's SACD is exceptionally vivid and well-defined. The recording should be of strong interest to Schnittke fans, not only because if the compositional versatility it demonstrates, but because the music itself is so engaging and enjoyable.

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