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Composers In Person - Stravinsky: Les Noces, Octet, Etc


Release Date: 04/07/2008 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 54607   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Linda SeymourParry JonesRoy HendersonEdwin Benbow,   ... 
Conductor:  Igor StravinskyErnest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony ChorusWalther Straram Concerts OrchestraAlexis Vlassof Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 35 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A highly important and desirable release.

Stravinsky's first appearance as a conductor was in 1923, when he directed the premiere of his Octet. He had made a number of piano rolls in the early 1920s, but when electric recording arrived he came to realize that the gramophone was an ideal medium through which he could show other performers how he wanted his music to be played. In 1928 he signed a six-year contract with Columbia which allowed him to record 12 sides per year. ''Everyone who listens to my records,'' he later wrote in 1935, ''hears my music free from any distortion of my thought, at least in its essential elements.''

Columbia naturally wanted him to record the three great early ballets first of
Read more all, but his lack of experience is obvious in 1928-9 performances of a suite from The Firebird, an abbreviated Petrushka and a somewhat shaky Rite of Spring. These interpretations naturally have points of interest, and dedicated Stravinsky-ites could have heard them at one time on Pearl (1/92—nla), but EMI have sensibly excluded them from their new set. By 1931, when he recorded the Symphony of Psalms, Stravinsky had somehow come of age as a conductor. Sessions for this work took place just three months after Ansermet had conducted the premiere, and the performance has that special vitality which comes from the experience of something new and exciting. The Franco-Russian chorus sings with extraordinary fervour, and it is particularly interesting to hear Stravinsky take the quiet final section of the work more quickly than he did in later performances.

The Octet was recorded in May 1932, and in a spirited, vivacious account we can hear the very distinct pre-war French wind timbre which will have been in the composer's mind when he wrote the piece just nine years earlier. In July 1934 he paid a visit to London's Abbey Road studios and recorded an English version of Les noces. Joe Batten was the producer, and in his autobiography (Rockcliff: 1956) he wrote with amusing candour about his antipathy to this 'peculiar' modern work. The sessions were a great success, however, and if Roy Henderson in particular sounds strangely old- fashioned in style, all the singing and playing are very good, and Stravinsky directs a strong, sharply rhythmic performance. It's only a pity that the balance is poor, with pianos and percussion well behind the singers.

Stravinsky directs piquant versions of the short Pastorale and Rag-time, and the remaining items feature him as a pianist (he had played in public since 1922). These show that he was a capable player, but not a virtuoso, like Bartok or Prokofiev. Of particular note is his style, which is much less percussive than that of many later interpreters. In the Concerto for Two Pianos he and his son Soulima play the work in a fairly restrained fashion, almost as if it were Bach or Mozart. The same is true of the solo Serenade, and only in the Piano-rag-music does Stravinsky show a little more abandon.

In 1931 he met the violinist Samuel Duskin, and the two men achieved an immediate artistic rapport. They undertook concert tours for several years, and in 1932 Stravinsky wrote the Duo concertant for he and Dushkin to play. In their 1933 recording they perform the quicker movements in a fairly straightforward fashion, but in ''Eclogue II'' and the final ''Dithyrambe'' Dushkin finds much more expression, with even a touch of portamento here and there. For their recitals the two men also made a number of joint transcriptions from Stravinsky's orchestral works, which are remarkably faithful to the originals. Dushkin plays these pretty well, but he was not by any means a great violinist.

Stravinsky's only concerto recording was of the Capriccio. This was made in May 1930, just a few months after he had given the first performance, also with Ansermet as conductor. Here, alas, the orchestra sounds on top of the microphones in a dry-as-dust acoustic, while the piano is somewhat in the background and lacks tonal definition. Some effort is needed by the listener to get the most out of a performance which again finds Stravinsky playing attractively, but well within the dynamic range of his instrument.

No other item in the set poses any aural problems. I have known most of the original 78s for many years, and can only marvel at the quality achieved by transfer engineer Andrew Walter. Almost everything sounds clearer, fresher and more up to date. This highly important and desirable issue is also adorned by Hugh Wood's notes, which meet the case perfectly.

-- Gramophone [5/1993]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Les noces by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Linda Seymour (Alto), Parry Jones (Tenor), Roy Henderson (Baritone),
Edwin Benbow (Piano), Ernest Lush (Piano), Leslie Heward (Piano),
Kate Winter (Soprano), Berkeley Mason (Piano)
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 07/1934 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 23 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Composition written: Switzerland (1917 - 1923). 
2.
Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Walther Straram Concerts Orchestra,  Alexis Vlassof Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930/1948; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1931 
Venue:  Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Paris 
Length: 21 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
3.
Pastorale for Violin, Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet and Bassoon by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Andre Vacellier (Clarinet), Louis Gromer (Oboe), George Durand (English Horn),
Gabriel Grandmaison (Bassoon), Samuel Dushkin (Violin)
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; France 
Date of Recording: 06/1933 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 2 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Stravinsky, Dushkin 
4.
Berceuse for Violin and Piano by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Igor Stravinsky (Piano), Samuel Dushkin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1933; France 
Date of Recording: 1933 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Stravinsky, Dushkin (from The Firebird) 
5.
Scherzo for Violin and Piano by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Igor Stravinsky (Piano), Samuel Dushkin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; France 
Date of Recording: 1933 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 2 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Stravinsky, Dushkin (from The Firebird) 
6.
Pétrouchka: Danse russe by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Samuel Dushkin (Violin), Igor Stravinsky (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911/1947; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 04/06/1933 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 4 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Stravinsky, Samuel Dushkin 
7.
Chants du rossignol et Marche chinoise for Violin and Piano by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Igor Stravinsky (Piano), Samuel Dushkin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
Date of Recording: 06/1933 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 8 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Stravinsky, Dushkin (from The Nightingale) 
8.
Rag-time for 11 instruments by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Jean Paul Morel (Percussion), Roger Tudesq (Trombone), Jean Devemy (French Horn),
Eugen Foveau (Trumpet), Emile Godeau (Clarinet), Lucien Lavaillotte (Flute),
Louis Juste (Double Bass), Eugene Ginot (Viola), Henri Volant (Violin),
Roland Charmy (Violin), Aladár Rácz (Cimbalom)
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 07/1934 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 4 Minutes 21 Secs. 
9.
Piano-rag-music by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Igor Stravinsky (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 07/05/1934 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 3 Minutes 12 Secs. 
10.
Suite italienne for Violin and Piano: 2nd movement, Serenata by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Igor Stravinsky (Piano), Samuel Dushkin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1933 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 2 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Stravinsky, Dushkin (from Pulcinella) 
11.
Suite italienne for Violin and Piano: 5th movement, Scherzino by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Igor Stravinsky (Piano), Samuel Dushkin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1933 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 1 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Stravinsky, Dushkin (from Pulcinella) 
12.
Serenade for Piano in A major by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Igor Stravinsky (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; France 
Date of Recording: 07/1934 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 11 Minutes 19 Secs. 
13.
Octet for Wind Instruments by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Andre Lafosse (Trombone), Pierre Vignal (Trumpet), Gustave Dherin (Bassoon),
Marius Piard (Bassoon), Marcel Moyse (Flute), Eugen Foveau (Trumpet),
Raphaël Delbos (Trombone), Emile Godeau (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923/1952; France 
Date of Recording: 05/1932 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 15 Minutes 2 Secs. 
14.
Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Igor Stravinsky (Piano)
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Walther Straram Concerts Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928-1929; France 
Date of Recording: 05/1930 
Venue:  Theatre des Champs-Elysées, Paris 
Length: 17 Minutes 30 Secs. 
15.
Concerto for 2 Pianos by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Soulima Stravinsky (Piano), Igor Stravinsky (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931-1935; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1938 
Venue:  Studio Pathé Marconi, Paris 
Length: 19 Minutes 33 Secs. 
16.
Duo concertant for Violin and Piano by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Samuel Dushkin (Violin), Igor Stravinsky (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931-1932; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1933 
Venue:  Studio Albert, Paris 
Length: 14 Minutes 51 Secs. 

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