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Stravinsky Vol 6 - Symphony Of Psalms, Les Noces / Craft


Release Date: 03/26/2002 
Label:  Koch International Classics Catalog #: 7514   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Alison WellsJeroen van VeenMaarten Van VeenTristan Fry,   ... 
Conductor:  Robert Craft
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia OrchestraSimon Joly ChorusTristan Fry Percussion Ensemble,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


This disc contains arguably the two finest performances of Les Noces and Threni (Lamentations of Jeremiah) currently available (not that there's much competition in the latter work). Robert Craft actually prepared the premiere and subsequent composer-led recording of Threni, but that rendition suffered from some very rough playing and unlovely solo singing. In a work that to a large extent consists of atonal canonic melodies thinly scored for just a few voices and instruments, accuracy of pitch and beauty of tone count for everything, and Craft gets it here, nowhere more so than in the spectacularly difficult a cappella writing featured in the third elegy: Querimonia. Special mention also must go to
Read more the two tenors, Martyn Hill and Joseph Cornwell, for their steadiness under pressure and the easy confidence they bring to their music. In all, Craft makes the best possible case for this austere, thorny, but (in this performance at least) oddly compelling work.


Craft's Les Noces--he would with good reason prefer the Russian title "Svadebka"--is simply spectacular. Not only does it feature superb playing by the four pianos and percussion, and marvelous singing by soprano Alison Wells and (once again) Martyn Hill, it's clear that Craft has invested a great deal of care and attention in getting clear articulation of the Russian text. This is critical because, as Craft explains in his detailed notes, the music flows naturally from the speech-rhythms of the words. So many performances of this marvelous piece sound like garbled chanting in an unrecognizable tongue. Craft ensures that for once we really hear the Russian, and just as significantly he balances his forces perfectly so that singers and instrumentalists play off each other with an astonishing degree of rhythmic tension. The resulting explosion of color and energy (you can hear this at any point, but the transition from the third to the fourth scenes offers an excellent example) has few if any equals in other performances--including Craft's earlier one on Music Masters.


The Symphony of Psalms also has numerous distinctive features: an extremely exciting opening movement, preternatural clarity of articulation in the ensuing double fugue, and an ear-catching attention to the vertical harmonic components of the finale's static, calmer sections. It's also fabulously played by the musicians of the Philharmonia (listen to the horns in their big lick at the height of the finale's frenzy). However, The Simon Joly Chorale, a smallish group, doesn't operate at the same level of excellence, with especially weak tenors and basses (at least compared, say, to Ancerl's incomparable Czech Philharmonic Chorus). Still, this minor caveat doesn't diminish the value of Craft's insights, and in particular his magnificent achievement in the other two works. This disc should rapidly become an essential component of any serious Stravinsky collection. [5/25/2002]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Robert Craft
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Simon Joly Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930/1948; France 
Date of Recording: 1/2001 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, UK 
Length: 22 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
2.
Les noces by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Alison Wells (Soprano), Jeroen van Veen (Piano), Maarten Van Veen (Piano),
Tristan Fry (Percussion), Susan Bickley (Mezzo Soprano), Martyn Hill (Tenor),
Alan Ewing (Bass), Nigel Bates (Percussion), Charles Fullbrook (Percussion),
Elizabeth Bergmann (Piano), Marcel Bergmann (Piano), Graham King (Percussion),
Glyn Matthews (Percussion), Julian Poole (Percussion)
Conductor:  Robert Craft
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Simon Joly Chorus,  Tristan Fry Percussion Ensemble  ... 
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 1/2001 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, UK 
Length: 23 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
3.
Threni - id est Lamentationes Jeremiae prophetae by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Joseph Cornwell (Tenor), David Wilson-Johnson (Bass), Julie Moffat (Soprano),
Jennifer Lane (Mezzo Soprano), Martyn Hill (Tenor), Martin Robson (Bass)
Conductor:  Robert Craft
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Simon Joly Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957-1958; USA 
Date of Recording: 6/2001 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, UK 
Length: 28 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: Latin 

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