Gennady Rozhdestvensky: Schnittke Symphonies 1 and 2

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Gennadi Rozhdestvensky conducts Schnittke Symphony No. 1
Recorded 1987

Alfred Schnittke!
Alfred Schnittke (Photo credit: Eric Wahlforss)

Schnittke Symphony No. 2 'St Florian' (playlist)

Commissioned by Rozhdestvensky, this symphony works on two levels almost simultaneously. While soloists and a choir perform the mass, set to chorales taken from the Gradual, the orchestra provides a running commentary that sometimes follows a particular chorale but more often is rather free and extensive in style. Yet musically almost all these sections blend the chorale tune with subsequent extensive orchestral 'commentary.' The work becomes what Schnittke called an "Invisible Mass," something Alexander Ivashkin termed "a symphony against a choral backdrop."