The polystylist music of Alfred Schnittke strikes a resonant chord with Australia-based pianist Konstantin Shamray. Although he was barely a teenager from Siberia when the Soviet/German composer died in 1998, the music had a huge and lasting impact on him.

Harry Ward and the ANAM Orchestra. Photograph © James Grant

“I feel as if his music reflects some of my formative experiences,” Shamray says. So, when Musica Viva Artistic Director Paul Kildea suggested he give the second ever Australian performance of Schnittke’s Concerto For Piano And Strings [In One Movement] for a collaborative project with the ANAM Orchestra and Sophie Rowell, the virtuoso re-immersed himself in the composer’s sometimes harrowing sound world.

“This particular concerto was written in the late 1970s not long before I was born, when it became clear something needed to change in the Soviet Union, and it raises many questions and emotional concerns from the period,” says Shamray.

Listening to Schnittke is a little like flicking the dial on your FM radio – you’ll pick up a phrase of Tchaikovsky, perhaps a pinch of Shostakovich, maybe a jazz channel, then...