By 1991, his health failing after a severe stroke, Schnittke’s music became increasingly dark and introspective. The playful stylization of the early Concerti Grossi was a decade behind him, and works from his last years (1991–8) have not to date achieved the popularity of those from the 1970s and ’80s. The Madrigal In Memoriam Oleg Kagan
(1991), written in homage to the violinist who had premiered many of Schnittke’s works and who had recently died, is intensely private, to the point where the listener can feel they are eavesdropping upon a dark, grieving monologue. Its cello-writing is improvisatory and spare, not admitting even a suggestion of the religious faith that had illuminated so much of Schnittke’s earlier work.
from notes by Pauline Fairclough © 2006