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Schnittke: Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2

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Schnittke: Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2
Schnittke: Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2


Violinist Mark Lubotsky was a lifelong friend of renowned composer Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998) and the dedicatee of his Violin Concerto No 2 and his three Violin Sonatas. Here he collaborates with Schnittke's widow Irina and his own wife, cellist Olga Dowbusch-Lubotsky, on a recording of the Piano Trio, and the women also perform Schnittke's two Cello Sonatas.

The Trio for violin, cello and piano (1992) - a reminiscence-filled work with echoes of Vienna, hints of Schubert, Mahler and the expressive language of Alban Berg - is an arrangement of the String Trio composed seven years earlier in response to a commission from the Alban Berg Society (to commemorate the composer's centenary). In the new version the composer departs from the homogeneous, almost orchestral string sound and makes the inner structures of the work clear in a new musical analysis. It was first performed by Irina Schnittke and Mark Lubotsky with cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.

Rostropovich was also the artist for whom Schnittke composed his Second Sonata for cello and piano - in 1994, shortly before the onset of his last and fatal illness. The character of the Second Sonata, in five movements, is much more introspective and ascetic than that of the First (written in 1978 for another famous Russian cellist, Natalia Gutman). Piano textures are extremely economical, ensuring that the cello has the predominant role. The Cello Sonata No 2 was premiered at the Barbican Centre in London in 1994 with Rostropovich accompanied by Irina Schnittke.

Schnittke's First Cello Sonata is one of the most popular works in the instrument's repertoire. It is regularly performed all over the world and is a compulsory piece at many international competitions. More recordings have been made of the Sonata than of any other work by the composer. Schnittke said of the piece: "One aspect of it that is worthy of attention is the way in which the musical language is simultaneously tonal and atonal. My idea was to create both a contrast and a meaningful interrelationship between the two."

Pianist, violinist and cellist have all performed in the Lubotsky Trio, and given the relationships of its first two players with Alfred Schnittke and his music, this important album has the hallmarks of a benchmark recording.

Personnel: Irina Schnittke (piano), Olga Dowbusch-Lubotsky (cello), Mark Lubotsky (violin)


  1. Name
  2. Sonata No. 1 for cello and piano (1978), Largo
  3. Presto
  4. Largo
  5. Trio for violin, cello and piano (1985/1992), Moderato
  6. Adagio
  7. Sonata No. 2 for cello and piano (1993/94), Senza tempo
  8. Allegro
  9. Largo
  10. Allegro
  11. Lento
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