Work: Pastorale for Violin, Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet and Bassoon
About This Work
Stravinsky's Pastorale, a song without words for soprano and piano, was composed at the Stravinsky family's estate in Ustilug, Ukraine. in 1907. It is one of a group of early works written under the supervision of Rimsky-Korsakov (the work is even
dedicated to Rimsky's daughter Nadia). Unlike his other early works -- the Symphony in E flat major (1905 - 1907), Op. 1, or the Scherzo fantastique (1907), the Pastorale not only bears no opus number, it bears none of Rimsky's compositional fingerprints. A limpid and poised vocal line set above a simple yet asymmetrical piano accompaniment, the Pastorale seems much more like a work from Stravinsky's cool objective maturity than his subjective and (relatively) hot-blooded youth. Compare the Tchaikovsky- and Wagner-influenced sensuality of the songs of Faune et Bergère (Faun and Shepherdess) of 1906 with the restrained Pastorale: the one could only have been written by the young Stravinsky, while the other could have been written any time between 1920 and 1940. Indeed, Stravinsky did re-set the Pastorale several times: first in 1923 for soprano and four wind instruments, then for violin and piano in 1933, and again for violin and four wind instruments in 1933. The violin versions were accomplished with the aid of Samuel Dushkin, the soloist at the premiere of the Violin Concerto (1931). Both are slightly longer than the earlier soprano versions but otherwise leave the music unchanged.
-- James Leonard
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