WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Igor Stravinsky Conducts His Own Works - Apollo, Etc


Release Date: 05/30/2006 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1184   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Peter PearsHelmut KrebsOtto Von RohrHeinz Rehfuss,   ... 
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony OrchestraNorthwest German Radio ChorusBaden-Baden Southwest German Radio Wind Quintet
Number of Discs: 3 
Length: 2 Hours 30 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



Stravinsky Apollon musagète . 1 Oedipus Rex. 2 Symphonies d?instruments à vent. 3 Capriccio . 4 Jeu de cartes . 5 Symphony in Three Movements 6 ? Igor Stravinsky, cond; Cologne Read more RO; 1, 2 Southwest German RSO; 3?6 Peter Pears ( Oedipus ); 2 Martha Mödl ( Jocasta ); 2 Heinz Rehfuss ( Creon ); 2 Otto von Rohr ( Tiresias ); 2 Helmut Krebs ( Shepherd ); 2 Werner Hessenland (nar); 2 Northwest German R Ch; 2 Maria Bergmann (pn) 4, 6 ? MUSIC & ARTS 1184, mono (2 CDs: 150:06)


There?s nothing unusual about listeners having, at the very least, a curiosity about, or at most, a fascination with composers conducting their own scores. Though a notoriously uneven bunch in terms of technique, leadership, communication, and even (surprise!) knowledge of one?s own music, there?s an implicit sense of authority that suggests to us that this person should know how the music is meant to sound, even if they?re seldom considered their own best interpreters. Stravinsky?s shortcomings as a conductor have been widely documented, including several remarks in the enclosed booklet, and yet he was often quoted as saying that he felt it was necessary for him to record his own works so as to ?prevent the distortion of my compositions by future interpreters.? And I, for one, believe that in many cases Stravinsky did leave us with, if not definitive versions (since no such thing exists), performances of his music that resonate with singular insight, intensity, and integrity?more so than any other composer/self-conductor I can think of (?professional? conductors like Bernstein being the exception).


That said, it should be obvious that this is a valuable and rewarding collection. The material on the first CD? Apollon musagète (aka Apollo , according to the composer?s later preference) and Oedipus Rex , recorded at a live concert in Cologne on October 8, 1951?was in the distant past available as a Columbia mono LP (ML-4644), though on that release the concert?s German narration in Oedipus Rex was replaced with one in French by the work?s librettist, Jean Cocteau, recorded separately in 1952. (Stravinsky specified that though the sung text is in Latin?translated from Cocteau?s French text, which was derived from Sophocles?s Greek?the narration should always be performed in the language of the audience. His own recordings were thus with French and, for his 1963 Columbia stereo re-make with The Opera Society of Washington, English narration. For this reissue, Music & Arts has restored the original German narration.) The second CD is apparently from a May 21, 1954, radio broadcast (alas, Robert Craft did not accompany the Stravinskys on this part of their European trip, so there is no mention of it in his otherwise meticulous Stravinsky: Chronicle of a Friendship , or its sequel, An Improbable Life ), and these four performances are previously unissued (officially, at any rate; I?m not enough of a discographical scholar to know if they?ve ever been bootlegged).


In any case, it?s hard to believe that the latter are not better known, as they are uniformly excellent performances in perfectly serviceable sound?dry, but clear, which suits the lean tone and taut rhythms which Stravinsky inevitably sought from his orchestras. The Südwestfunk Symphony was Hans Rosbaud?s orchestra from 1948 to 1962, and with both orchestra and conductor noted for their ability with modern music, it?s likely that they were well prepared before Stravinsky took the podium. This performance of the Symphony in Three Movements is roughly comparable to the composer?s studio recording with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, that is, detailed and forceful, with plenty of snap and momentum, especially driven in the final pages. Jeu de cartes has never been one of my favorite Stravinsky works, but the maestro does manage to whip up some excitement, and held my attention throughout. Maria Bergmann, the orchestra?s resident pianist, is the less-than-flamboyant pianist in the Capriccio , lacking a bit of Paul Crossley?s rhythmic lilt (Sony) and Michel Beroff?s biting, vibrant filigree (EMI Classics), but Stravinsky makes sure that the music has enough zip, emphasizing pointed attacks?you can?t miss the jolt into the third movement. But best of all is this Symphonies of Wind Instruments . The composer?s measured pace is slower than either the crisp, energetic version by Esa-Pekka Salonen (on the aforememtioned Sony disc) or Robert Craft?s suitably objective account for Columbia (note, his later Koch recording is of the original 1920 score?all of the others mentioned here are of the 1947 revision). But speed is deceptive in this music. In relistening to some alternative performances, I was most taken by one that Pierre Boulez recorded with the Orchestre du Domain Musical in the early 1960s (from an Ades LP). Where one might expect Gallic wit and sparkle (after all, the music is dedicated to Debussy, and Boulez has been one of his foremost interpreters), it?s surprisingly somber without being studied, and puts me in mind of a Calder mobile, as if offering rotating views of the fanfares and interludes that comprise the Symphonies . But it takes only eight-and-a-half minutes, marginally shorter than the upbeat Salonen. Stravinsky, by comparison, exaggerates some of the dynamic levels, and stretches the music out considerably towards the end, allowing chords to hover in the air and linger, taking over 10 minutes in the process. This is now my favorite interpretation of all.


As for the other disc, this 1951 Apollon musagète is not to be confused with the performance he recorded in 1957 with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra (Orfeo). I became familiar with this ballet through the later Columbia recording, praiseworthy for its delicacy and lyricism; in the 1951 concert, the composer offers a bit more tension, if not quite aggression, and makes one constantly aware that this is music to be danced to, as if choreography were purely audible. There?s a lot to admire in this Oedipus Rex , as well. For one, there are familiar names among the vocalists (who are front-and-center in the balance, to the loss of some orchestral details, especially when the chorus kicks in), and Pears and Rehfuss bring tonal nuance and plenty of emotion to this austere ?still life? (to cite the composer?s own description)?listen to Oedipus?s response to Tiresias to hear pride and anger and anxiety all bubbling to the surface. Word has it that Levine?s DG recording is the one to beat, and it?s true that this one can?t compete as far as orchestral color and detail is concerned, but it?s hugely effective and, dare I say it, dramatic. Texts, by the way, are not included.


Except for the Symphonies of Wind Instruments , none of these performances jump to the front of the line, but each communicates the composer?s intentions in some meaningful and striking way. For revealing something about Stravinsky as both composer and conductor, this release is highly recommended.


FANFARE: Art Lange
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Apollon musagète by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 10/08/1951 
Venue:  Cologne, West Germany 
Notes: Composition written: France (1927 - 1928). 
2.
Oedipus rex by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Helmut Krebs (Tenor), Otto Von Rohr (Bass),
Heinz Rehfuss (Baritone), Werner Hessenland (Spoken Vocals), Martha Mödl (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Northwest German Radio Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1927; France 
Date of Recording: 10/08/1951 
Venue:  Cologne, West Germany 
Notes: This selection is sung in German and Latin. 
3.
Symphonies of Wind Instruments by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baden-Baden Southwest German Radio Wind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; France 
Date of Recording: 05/21/1954 
Venue:  Baden-Baden, West Germany 
4.
Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Maria Bergmann (Piano)
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baden-Baden Southwest German Radio Wind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928-1929; France 
Date of Recording: 05/21/1954 
Venue:  Baden-Baden, West Germany 
5.
Jeu de cartes by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baden-Baden Southwest German Radio Wind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; France 
Date of Recording: 05/21/1954 
Venue:  Baden-Baden, West Germany 
6.
Symphony in Three Movements by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Maria Bergmann (Piano)
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baden-Baden Southwest German Radio Wind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942-1945; USA 
Date of Recording: 05/21/1954 
Venue:  Baden-Baden, West Germany 

Sound Samples

Apollon musagete, "Apollo": Tableau I: Prologue: The Birth of Apollo
Apollon musagete, "Apollo": Tableau II: Apollo's Variation
Apollon musagete, "Apollo": Tableau II: Pas d'action: Apollo and the Muses
Apollon musagete, "Apollo": Tableau II: Variation of Calliope
Apollon musagete, "Apollo": Tableau II: Variation of Polymnia
Apollon musagete, "Apollo": Tableau II: Variation of Terpsichore
Apollon musagete, "Apollo": Tableau II: Variation of Apollo
Apollon musagete, "Apollo": Tableau II: Pas de deux: Apollo and Terpsichore
Apollon musagete, "Apollo": Tableau II: Coda: Apollo and the Muses
Apollon musagete, "Apollo": Tableau II: Apotheosis: Apollo and the Muses
Oedipus Rex: Prologue
Oedipus Rex: Introducing Creon
Oedipus Rex: Introducing Tiresias
Oedipus Rex: Introducing Focasta
Oedipus Rex: Introducing the Messenger
Oedipus Rex: Epilogue
Symphonies of Wind Instruments (original 1920 version)
Capriccio: I. Presto
Capriccio: II. Andante rapsodico
Capriccio: III. Allegro capriccioso ma sempre giusto
Jeu de cartes (The Card Game): Premiere donne (First Deal)
Jeu de cartes (The Card Game): Deuxieme donne (Second Deal)
Jeu de cartes (The Card Game): Troisieme donne (Third Deal)
Symphony in 3 Movements: I. Overture: Allegro
Symphony in 3 Movements: II. Andante
Symphony in 3 Movements: III. Con moto

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In