Suite in the Old Style

Composer: Alfred Schnittke (b. 1934 - d. 1998)
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Composer: Alfred Schnittke (b. 1934 - d. 1998)

Performance date: 29/06/2015

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1972

Duration: 00:15:09

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation: 4vn, 2va, 2vc

Instrumentation Category:Duo

Instrumentation Other: vc, hpd

Artists: David Adams - [harpsichord]
David Cohen - [cello]

music is
neither old nor modern: it is either good or bad music and the date at which it
was written has no significance whatsoever. All old music was modern once, and
much more of the music of yesterday already sounds more old-fashioned than
works which were written three centuries ago. All good music, whatever its
date, is ageless – as alive and significant today as it was when it was
Peter Warlock 1926

Schnittke is well-known for his postmodern practice of
featuring direct quotations of or allusions to historical music, in particular
baroque music. He borrowed not only rhythmic, melodic and harmonic features
from the baroque, but also formal structures as in his famous six Concerti
Grosssi. Some of his works employ virtually all the formal devices associated
with the baroque style with modern features superimposed or juxtaposed within
the baroque framework.

The Suite in the
Old Style
is however a genuine pastiche and a listener unfamiliar with
Schnittke’s tricks would be hard put to guess the composer, certainly for the
first four movements, only in the last movement does the façade slip and the
twentieth century suddenly makes its uneasy presence felt. Soviet composers
could sometimes only make a living as a film composer for even when their regular
compositions were banned, it seemed to be acceptable for them to work in the
film industry. Schnittke wrote something like sixty film scores and, believe it
or not, the first three movements of this delicious music were first used in a
film called Adventures of a Dentist,
which, again, believe it or not, managed to upset the authorities – a
politically incorrect film about a dentist has to be some achievement.