Let's hear it for the wierdos

Let's hear it for the wierdos


norman lebrecht

August 10, 2011

There’s a world premiere coming up in Tokyo the week after next. It’s Alfred Schnittke’s complete music for glass harmonica.

All right, all right, don’t all rush for the exits. A few moments of glass harmonica wooziness can empty a house like a desert rat at the door, as Mozart discovered with the public response to his seldom-played late Adagio.

But this is not just glass harmonica. It’s glass harmonica with a great movie by a young composer still discovering his voice.


Schnittke resurrected the wacko instrument for an ambitious score he composed in 1968 for an animation short by Andrej Khrzhanovsky. You can see excerpts here and here on youtube. The music is of startling, hypnotic beauty.

The films will be shown at Suntory Hall on August 22, ith the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kazuyoshi Akiyama. Wish I were there.

(Here’s more on Khrzhanonvsky.)


  • jane says:

    I am shocked to see the venerable Norman Lebrecht has spelled weirdos incorrectly! In the title, no less!
    Love your blog! 😉