Kancheli: Vom Winde Beweint - Schnittke: Konzert für Viola und Orchester
Dennis Russell Davies & Kim Kashkashian
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Death and the Viola
The pairing of Schnittke and Kancheli makes sense on paper - they were friends and Kancheli later wrote a similar viola work, "Styx" when Schnittke died. Both works have death as the central theme. But I don't think "Mourned by the Wind" (though it is one of Kancheli's most popular works) is in the same playing field as the Schnittke Concerto. Kancheli writes long, beautiful passages for the viola which are suddenly and rudely interrupted by orchestral bombast; almost as if he knows he is putting you to sleep and wants you to jump in your seat. Perhaps some blame rests with the dynamics but I find this obnoxious. Other ECM releases paint Kancheli in a better light.
Schnittke's Concerto for Viola is widely accepted now as one of Schnittke's masterpieces and of the form in general. Likewise, Kim Kashkashian is established as one of the world's preeminent violists. Still, this is a good not great version of the work. Reviews like to talk about Schnittke's concertos as battles between the soloist and the orchestra (in which the soloist is defeated) and I think there is something to that. Only the Saarbrucken orchestra here just doesn't sound menacing enough and Kashkashian not quite as desperate as she should.
This should not be anybody's first (or only) recording of either of these works: for that, try to find Yuri Bashmet who is the dedicatee of both pieces. If this disc does appeal to you, go ahead and buy it on iTunes. The liner notes spend considerable time discussing Shostakovich and Symphonies: neither of which are represented here.
Born: April 16, 1944 in Toledo, OH
Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s