Chamber Choir Hymnia, Flemming Windekilde, cond., Schnittke: Requiem

John Schaefer

By John Schaefer

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Born to German and Jewish parents in the autonomous Volga-Deutsch republic in the Soviet Union, Schnittke was probably never going to be a State favorite. So he went the other way, freely combining early classical elements (Mozart, Haydn) with modern tonal and atonal techniques, and using collage to bring together unlikely combinations of styles and centuries. To many Americans, he seemed like a Russian version of Charles Ives. Elements of humor and pathos mix in his music, too, but some of his most direct and affecting music came from his vocal works associated with the Orthodox Church. The Requiem is one such work, full of glowing, almost angelic choral singing, but shot through with streaks of unexpected darkness and passion. This double album also features his Concerto for Mixed Chorus, a superb piece that is at least the musical and spiritual equal of the Requiem.