In 1978 Alfred Schnittke (1934-98) wrote the incidental music for a production of The Inspector’s Tale, an adaptation for stage of Gogol’s Dead Souls. It was to have been directed by Yuri Lyubimov, but the Soviet government banned the production. A suite was assembled from the score by Gennadi Rozhdenstvensky, and two leading colleagues of Schnittke – Gubaidulina and Denisov contributed a jointly composed march, which opens this CD. In 1985 the music was choreographed, the ballet, called Esquisses was performed at the Bolshoi. Schnittke composed a number of new pieces for this production. The characters in the action are all from Gogol, but in addition to The Dead Souls, we meet Tchitchikov, Major Kovalyov’s Nose, and Ferdinand VIII from Notes of a Madman. A passage from the book is recited in his piece, and is read by the conductor on this CD.
The music is a poly-stylistic, with a huge orchestra (2 electric guitars, flexatone, prepared oiano with coins inserted between the strings), quotations from Beethoven, Haydn, Tchaikovsky – all with a sense of devilish mischief which suites ideally the grotesque nature of many of Gogol’s characters.
• Recording made in 1996
• ‘The result is one of his most entertaining pieces, playful, memorable, laconic, packed with sly grotesqueries: ideal for the theatre, in other words. The performance and recording do it full justice’ Gramophone June 1998