The young, American, all-female Lark Quartet have been gathering prizes and critical encomia over the past ten years or so, and these sensitively prepared performances of three of Schnittke’s most memorable chamber pieces show just why. I’m pretty sure I’ve not heard a better focused or more full-blooded account of the Second Quartet, nor one which held my attention more consistently.
No performer championed the work of the late Russian composer Alfred Schnittke more than violinist Gidon Kremer. Here Kremer and colleagues offer a diverse sampling of Schnittke's work that will interest both those familiar and unfamiliar with this fascinating and influential composer. In the opening Concerto Grosso No. 1 for instance three centuries of Classical and Popular musical styles collide to humorous and at times chilling effect. Schnittke's exhilarating early piece Quasi una sonata as well is equally experimental requiring the violin soloist Kremer to extract sounds from his instrument Stradivari never intended. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is remarkably good capturing all the fun beautifully.