The music of Alfred Schnittke (1934-1988) is remarkably consistent. Virtually everything I have had the pleasure to hear of his output bears the stamp of originality, of a modern yet melodically thoroughgoing fineness, of a structural soundness and a human and humane expressivity.
This holds true for the works represented in the recent Musique de Chambre Vol. 2 (Atma ACD2 2669), featuring Quatuor Molinari and guests. Two late and one slightly earlier works are represented: the Piano Quartet (1988), a String Trio (1985), and the Piano Quintet (1972-76).
As is often the case with Schnittke, tradition and modernism combine in interesting ways, notably in the String Trio and Piano Quintet, where plaintive melodies, waltz figures, tender, melancholic minor largo-like themes share aural space with contemporary dissonances and abstract structures.
The performances are rather exceptional. Louise Bessette at the piano, Marcin Swoboda as the additional viola on the quintet and the Quatuor Molinari giving attention to the details and the big picture, combining tonal and extra-tonal passagework with sureness and an excellent feel for the composer's passion and structural genious.
If you only have some or all of his string quartets, this gives you a more complete picture of his chamber output. Much recommended.