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Alfred Schnittke's Concerto Grosso no. 1$
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Peter J. Schmelz

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190653712

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190653712.001.0001

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(p.53) Chapter 3 Recitativo
Alfred Schnittke's Concerto Grosso no. 1

Peter J. Schmelz

Oxford University Press

The third movement of Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso no. 1, Recitativo, lays bare the soloists, foregrounding and undercutting them simultaneously. More strangely, the movement ends with quotations from Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and from Berg’s Violin Concerto just before its climax. This chapter further discusses Schnittke’s sketches for the Concerto Grosso no. 1. Particular attention is given to Schnittke’s reference in these sketches to Adelbert von Chamisso’s novella “Peter Schlemiel,” and the parallels that might be drawn between it and the Concerto Grosso no. 1. This chapter also considers more fully what this composition says about Schnittke’s polystylism at the time and his changing accounts of balancing often irreconcilable opposites. What does it all mean? Was he earnest or not? Schnittke insisted that he viewed all of the themes in the Concerto Grosso no. 1 “completely seriously,” but he was as prone to laughing as crying in the face of absurdity.

Keywords:   Alfred Schnittke, Concerto Grosso no. 1, musical sketches, Adelbert von Chamisso, Peter Schlemiel, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Alban Berg, musical quotation, polystylism

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