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Schnittke Sonata No.1 and Schubert Sonata 'Reliquie'



Schnittke’s reputation was steadily growing, and after the death of Shostakovich in 1975 he became one of the leading composers in Russia. Despite official resistance, obstacles and restrictions on travelling abroad, his music was now being performed in the USSR and his status as a major, internationally recognized composer was apparent.

Schnittke composed his first piano sonata in 1987, the year in which I was finally allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union. This work could be considered the beginning of his late period. The world premier took place in the fall of 1988, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in an all-Schnittke concert, the first of its kind in the US, which I organized. Alfred and his wife Irina came to New York from Russia to attend this event.

As in many of Schnittke’s works written for a particular performer, the musical material is based on the monogram of the name of that musician, in this case, mine. The sonata opens with a very slow line that contains the notational representation of my name. The first movement has no indicated speed: it is a senza tempo recitative beyond time. All of the musical material of the entire sonata is present here, as in Beethoven’s sonatas. A Russian Orthodox chant appears and vanishes and the opening theme returns at the end of the movement.

I was very fortunate to know and be close to Alfred Schnittke. I am grateful for his friendship and his music.

Vladimir Feltsman

Schnittke Sonata No.1 and Schubert Sonata 'Reliquie'


'Schnittke's First Piano Sonata was penned in 1987, the year he could finally emigrate from the Soviet Union...Feltsman is a master of the long lines and clearly understands and revels in the Schoenbergian harmonies. The very opening [of the Sonata D840] marks Feltsman as a great Schubert player, vying with Uchida for supremacy in this repertoire.' International Piano, November 2014

'Vladimir Feltsman studied with none less than the great avant-garde composer Alfred Schnittke, one of the greatest advocates of music of the second half of the 20th century. On his new, truly remarkable album, Feltsman brings together his teacher's Sonata No.1 with one of Schubert's most emotionally engaging sonatas. The combination itself is remarkable – but even more exciting is the manner in which Feltsman manages to square the circle and make you understand the seemingly contradictory relationship between the two pieces. Fascinating.' Rainer Aschemeier Sep 14 2014,