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Stravinsky: L'histoire Du Soldat, Etc / Krautgartner, Et Al


Release Date: 03/01/2000 
Label:  Supraphon   Catalog #: 3168   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Jan NovotnyKarel Krautgartner
Conductor:  Libor PesekKarel Krautgartner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Chamber HarmonyKarel Krautgartner Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



STRAVINSKY The Soldier’s Tale: Suite 1. Octet 1. Symphonies of Wind Instruments. 1 Piano-Rag Music. 2 Ragtime. 3 Ebony Concerto 3 Libor Pesek, cond; 1 Prague Ch Harmony; Read more class="SUPER12">2 Jan Novotny (pn); 3 Karel Krautgartner (cl, cond); Karel Krautgartner O SUPRAPHON 3168-2 911 (66:38)


These performances of Stravinsky’s wind-dominated chamber works have been available pretty consistently since they were first released on LP in the 1960s. They have long been favorites of mine, and on this last reissue from 10 years ago they sound better than ever. The instruments are recorded closely, but unlike the composer’s Columbia recordings the sound is not too dry, thanks to the natural reverberation in the Dvo?ák Hall of the Rudolfinum, Prague.


There have been excellent discs of this music by such ensembles as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta (under Chailly). Those newer performances are invariably better blended but I am not convinced that this is a bonus. Each of the Czech wind and brass players on this release has a truly individual character, so that in the Octet and The Soldier’s Tale the listener gets the impression of a conversation taking place, replete with interruptions and repetitive point-making. The trumpet rises to flights of lyrical fancy at every opportunity, no matter how brief; the bassoons gruffly anchor the argument; the forthright trombone (in the ritornello of the Octet) brays with derisive laughter. The tempo of the Soldier’s violin playing in the suite is more relaxed than in some other versions, yet it maintains a bounce to the rhythmic double-stopped figures. This soldier may be longing to get home but he is not rushing; he has had a long journey with a full kit and is pacing himself. (The playing of the Prague Chamber Harmony’s violinist is incisive and, again, supremely characterful.) In the more sombre Symphonies of Wind Instruments , the sharp contrast of timbres clarifies the musical argument in a way that smoother ensembles do not. In the only solo item here, the Piano-Rag Music , Jan Novotny’s instrument boasts an appropriate “close enough for jazz” tuning, giving the piece more of a speakeasy flavor than Stravinsky ever did.


The musicians of the Prague Chamber Harmony are not listed—more’s the pity. I don’t know whether any of them also played in the Krautgartner orchestra, but the timbral characteristics of both ensembles are similar. Karel Krautgartner (1922–82) was a jazz saxophonist and bandleader, who plays clarinet in the Ebony Concerto (composed for Woody Herman). I like the way these players, experienced as they are in jazz, do not feel the need to underline effects. Overlapping trombone slides, for example, are played simply and naturally as a part of the everyday language, rather than as an imported exotic vulgarity.


A relishing of Stravinsky’s radical sound world informs the performances on this well-filled disc. Indeed, they must be approaching historic status by now, having been set down almost 50 years ago at a time when musicians had personality and not all the rough edges had been smoothed away.


FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

1.
L'histoire du soldat: Suite for Chamber Ensemble by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Libor Pesek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Chamber Harmony
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; Switzerland 
2.
Octet for Wind Instruments by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Libor Pesek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Chamber Harmony
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923/1952; France 
3.
Symphonies of Wind Instruments by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Libor Pesek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Chamber Harmony
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; France 
4.
Piano-rag-music by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Jan Novotny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; Switzerland 
5.
Rag-time for 11 instruments by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Karel Krautgartner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Karel Krautgartner Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; Switzerland 
6.
Ebony Concerto by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Karel Krautgartner (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Karel Krautgartner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Karel Krautgartner Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 

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