Schnittke: Choir Concerto & Minnesang (CD Review - The Guardian, 2002)

From its very opening the Choir Concerto proclaims its affiliations to the Russian choral tradition. Completed in 1985, it is one of the most imposing of all Schnittke's later works - 40 minutes long, and setting passages from an Armenian book of lamentation - using a language that makes constant reference to the melodic shapes and diatonic harmony of the Orthodox liturgy. This superbly performed collection of Schnittke's a cappella music also includes the 1981 Minnesang, which takes texts by the medieval German minnesingers and virtually atomises them in the densely woven textures created by 52 solo voices. Strictly speaking, Voices of Nature is not unaccompanied, as a solo vibraphone underpins the textless vocalise of the 10 females voices, even though its sound is totally embedded in the rapturous texture.

Andrew Clements 

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