WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Stravinsky: Orpheus, Danses Concertantes / Orpheus CO


Release Date: 06/15/1999 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 459644   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 50 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

"This conductorless chamber orchestra has every musical strand of Stravinsky's mythological ballet literally quivering with energy. The transparent textures and razor sharp rhythms are critical in a score that is, for the most part, very subdued--but how fresh and beautiful this music is! The "Danses concertantes" receives a performance of similarly sharp focus, though it may take a couple of listenings to fully appreciate the work's brittle wit. Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic offer a beefier, more emphatic view of the "Danses", but Orpheus' inevitably smaller scaled approach works equally well in what is, after all, a very modestly scored work."

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Read more
----------------------------

As recorded ‘blueprints’ of these neo-classical ballet scores, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s conductorless Stravinsky is more accomplished than the composer’s own. Stravinsky the conductor rarely enjoyed this degree of evenly matched and ‘finished’ instrumental tone, and apparently effortless accuracy of pitch and ensemble – qualities which, along with a compact sonic presentation respecting the different intensities of each instrument, expose a hitherto unattained degree of detail.

There is poetry in all this precision too; a precision of character that emerges as a natural result of so much properly achieved, and from an abundance of imaginative phrasing and nuances of rhythm from players at one with each other and at one with the idiom; for example, the delicacy, tenderness and ‘controlled freedom’ of the exchanges in the opening ‘Theme’ of the central movement of Danses concertantes, or the wonderfully skittish flute incursions in its succeeding ‘Pas de deux’. One also wonders, listening to these perfectly poised performances, whether Stravinsky’s double-edged description of Ravel as a ‘Swiss watchmaker’ might have originated from a recognition of similar qualities in himself.

The other-worldly Orpheus – the main work here – is not an easy score to bring off, the majority of it slow and chaste, dwelling in the regions between mezzo-forte and pianissimo (the ‘Dance of the Furies’ is a particular challenge to players: Stravinsky calls it ‘an Agitato in piano’). Also among the difficulties are a sustained projection of character at these low levels, and a gauging of the level of conscious expressivity. Stravinsky as conductor avoids these ‘problems’ by seeming to upgrade most of the dynamics. In reality, the restricted dynamic range of his 1964 recording is more than partly responsible for this, but there is also a degree of expressive ‘playing out’ in, for example, the beautiful ‘Pas de deux’ for Orpheus and Euridice which warms up, appropriately or otherwise, a score that can be seen as a study in Hellenistic cool. The relatively recent Salonen (with the Philharmonia on top form) is the nearest rival for this newcomer in terms of the class of the playing, the emotional temperature and the ability to project at low levels, but it comes across rather differently owing to the Sony sound stage’s deeper perspectives. Sony’s an acoustic setting that enhances the music’s evocative power at such points as the extraordinary final scene (Apollo takes Orpheus to heaven, and Stravinsky’s slow horn fugato over a chill of tone from strings and trumpet suggests ancient chanting quite as strange as anything in The Rite of Spring, and the Orpheus story as frozen in time, for all time), but which can, earlier on, render some of the brass writing too discreet.

DG’s location here is the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s regular recording haunt, the Recital Hall at New York State University’s Performing Arts Center in Purchase; an acoustic ideally matched to the scale and intention of these performances and one which, I would assume, allows these conductorless players to interact as the most subtly responsive of chamber groups. Perhaps the acoustic’s compactness does bring a little ‘tightening’ of tone above mezzo-forte in the Danses concertantes, but I never found this troublesome. Salonen’s coupling is more generous, but less valuable (a professionally dispatched Petrushka with a few unappealing interpretative quirks). So, strongly recommended.

-- John Steane, Gramophone [7/1999]
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Orpheus by Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
2.
Danses concertantes by Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 

Featured Sound Samples

Danses concertantes: I. Marche: Introduction
Orpheus: Scene 1: Air de danse (Andante con moto)

Sound Samples

Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 1st scene: Introduction
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 1st scene: Air de danse
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 1st scene: L'ange de la mort et sa danse
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 2nd scene: Interlude
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 2nd scene: Pas de furies
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 2nd scene: Air de danse
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 2nd scene: Interlude
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 2nd scene: Air de danse
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 2nd scene: Pas d'action
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 2nd scene: Pas de deux
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 2nd scene: Interlude
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 2nd scene: Pas d'action
Orpheus - Ballet in 3 Scenes / 3rd scene: Apotheose d'Orphée
Danses Concertantes for Chamber Orchestra: 1. Marche - Introduction
Danses Concertantes for Chamber Orchestra: 2. Pas d'action
Danses Concertantes for Chamber Orchestra: 3. Thème varié
Danses Concertantes for Chamber Orchestra: 4. Pas de Deux
Danses Concertantes for Chamber Orchestra: 5. Marche - Conclusion

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 - TRY IT FREE!
Listen to all your favorite classical music for only $20/month.
Sign up for your monthly subscription service and get unlimited access to the most comprehensive digital catalog of classical music in the world - new releases. bestsellers, advanced releases and more.
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In