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Faculty pay tribute to composer Alfred Schnittke in Nov. 19th concert

Sarita Kwok, violin; Ettore Causa, viola; Ole Akahoshi, cello; and Wei-Yi Yang, piano, will play three Schnittke duos for strings and piano
November 14, 2014

Alfred Schnittke

The Yale School of Music’s Faculty Artist Series presents a concert of music by Alfred Schnittke (1934–1998) commemorating the 80th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Sarita Kwok, violin; Ettore Causa, viola; Ole Akahoshi, cello; and Wei-Yi Yang, piano will play three of Schnittke’s duos for strings and piano. This concert offers a relatively rare opportunity to hear a full evening of work by the Soviet composer.

Schnittke focused mainly on chamber music, particularly the human-like voices of string instruments. He developed a polystylistic approach that combined and juxtaposed styles from across eras. The violinist Midori has written that “Schnittke saw music as a chronicling of human life and of the history that shaped it.”

The Nov. 19th program opens with Schnittke’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1, written in 1963 and showing the influence of the young composer’s recent exposure to musical trends in the West at the time.

Next is Suite in the Old Style, transcribed for viola and piano by Dashiel Nesbitt, a recent viola graduate of the School of Music. Originally written in 1972, the piece meditates on musical qualities from Bach and other baroque composers.

The concert concludes with the Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 1. Written in 1978, it has become one of Schnittke’s most frequently performed pieces. Its opening movement has been described as “nostalgic,” setting up a biting contrast for the “pungent” second movement. As noted elsewhere, “Schnittke takes two of the most basic building-blocks of tonal music… and subjects them to extreme magnification.… Schnittke’s treatment of over-familiar musical material is questioning and subversive.”

Admission to the performance is free. The concert takes place in Morse Recital Hall, located in Sprague Hall at 470 College Street. For more information, visit the School of Music’s website or contact the Yale School of Music concert office at 203 432-4158.