Alfred Schnittke’s chamber music comprises a dozen works which include four string quartets (released in 2011 by ATMA with Molinari Quartet, Chamber Music vol. 1 ACD2 2634), as well as the three works featured on this volume 2.
Schnittke was a great admirer of Mahler. In 1988, he based his own Piano Quartet on Mahler’s chamber music sketches. Schnittke dedicated the Quartet to the Ukrainian violinist Oleh (Oleg) Krysa, one of the musicians who had premiered his Trio. Schnittke’s String Trio was commissioned by the Alban Berg Society of Vienna to commemorate the centenary of the Austrian composer’s birth in 1985. His quintet can be thought of as a kind of heir to the one Shostakovich had composed in 1940. Its five movements create a sort of instrumental Requiem dominated by a cyclical theme of five notes and by the imitation of Russian church bells.