June 15, 2011
Hence my ambivalence toward Schnittke's music. I think there is a considerable but not fully realized talent behind the notes, and I've worked quite hard on trying to hear past the things that rub me the wrong way. Yet despite my efforts, and despite my sympathy for Schnittke's predicament as a Soviet composer, I still do not respond to his music. Worse, I actually dislike most of it. Whether in the Darmstadt-flavored early Violin Concerto No.2, or in the simplistically cinematic middle period Concerto for Piano and Strings, or in the late String Trio with its crude allusions to minimalism - the music has a pervasive and (to me) unpleasant flavor of faux originality, as if the composer is trying to hide himself behind a carefully designed and thoroughly fake musical personality. Attaching to this flavor the academic-sounding name polystylism does nothing to change my impression.