The inspiration that the Soviet avant-garde found in the Classical era inspired this disc where violinist Gidon Kremer and his string orchestra Kremerata Baltica juxtapose pieces by Mozart with Raskatov, Schnittke and Silvestrov. I'm not much of a fan of Mozart himself, so I'll limit my review to the 20th century composers present here. Their treatment of Mozart varies widely.
Alfred Schnittke's "Moz-Art a la Haydn" for 2 violins and strings (1977) irreverently improvises on the fragement of Mozart's unfinished "pantomime music" K. 446. If you're familiar with other Schnittke works from the height of his polystylistic period, then you know what to expect here: shifts from pure tones to crushing dissonance, much pathos and some general zaniness. In live performance there is considerable theatricality: alteration of darkness and light, the musicians walking off the stage as in Haydn's "Farewell" symphony, the violinist detuning her instrument, and the conductor left all alone, still beating time. A mere CD recording can't represent that, but there is a concert DVD again with Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica. Kremer also previously recorded "Moz-Art a la Haydn" on a DG disc with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
In Alexander Raskatov's "5 Min. aus dem Leben von W.A.M." the purity of the classical line is also undermined, but more subtly, employing orchestration and extended performance techniques that date to later eras. It's cute, but it's nowhere near as strong as the other material I've heard from Raskatov, namely his "Nunc dimittis" and the completion of Schnittke's unfinished Ninth on an ECM disc.
With Valentin Silvestrov's "The Messenger" for piano and strings (1996) we depart from humour and overt debt to Mozart. This 10-minute work is Silvestrov's typical reverie, where Late Romantic fogs sometimes part to allow a poignant melody through. It doesn't rank among Silvestrov's best work, though it's innocent enough. There's another performance on an ECM disc by the Munchener Kammerorchestra and Alexei Lubimov conducted by Christoph Poppen.
Essentially the 20th century works here are lightweight. The Schnittke is the most substantial of the three, but it's a fairly marginal entry in his catalogue. Established fans of Silvestrov are most likely collecting the ECM releases, so they'll already have a recording of "The Messenger" and probably won't care to collect more. Perhaps this disc might nonetheless prove interesting to fans of Mozart who want to discover some 20th century music that touches on the classics.