I’d never taken much interest in Schnittke’s music, finding it largely impenetrable, until I listened to this CD, which is an excellent showcase for what I now realise was one of the most intriguing and polystylisitc (read eclectic) and, most of all, subversive composers in the second half of the 20th century.


Daniel Hope and his pianist display an overarching insight in these disparate scores (sometimes even within the same work) such as the weird rumba-like passage in the last movement of the Violin Sonata. These works really do continually bring you up short.

The opening work is the Suite in the Old Style and is a relatively straightforward and charming piece, for violin and piano in the style of Greig’s Holberg Suite , Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin or Stravinsky’s Pulcinella . It’s warm and witty but always ready to suddenly veer off into brittle pastiche (only Schnittke could have originally composed it for viola d’amore, harpsichord and percussion).

I was initially surprised to read that his Violin Sonata No 1 is one of the most popular works post-World War II in...