Monday, July 30, 2007

Complete Stravinsky at a crazy price


Columbia have released a new compilation of the Works of Stravinsky conducted by the composer and Robert Craft. I paid £29.95 ($60) at Prelude Records for the box, you may find it cheaper online. The twenty-two CD's comprise all the stereo recordings made for Columbia with the composer conducting, one CD with Robert Craft conducting and Stravinsky in attendance, and several older recordings of works not remade in stereo by the composer. The remastering and sound is excellent, far better than earlier issues of these recordings.

When Eugene Gossens conducted Les Noces in its London premiere with the Ballet Russe in 1926, the four pianists were composers Vittorio Rieti, Georges Auric, Francis Poulenc and Vladimir Dukelsky (Vernon Duke). Stravinsky wanted to replicate this for the 1961 recording included in this set, and the pianists were the composers Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Lukas Foss and Roger Sessions. When invited, Lukas Foss accepted on the condition that he played Piano Number One, while Roger Sessions insisted on the easiest part. For the record (literally) Pianos One and Three were played by Lukas Foss and Samuel Barber, Two and Four by Aaron Copland and Roger Sessions.

This starry line-up was bettered by a 1966 New York performance of The Soldier's Tale which Stravinsky conducted with the speaking parts of the Narrator, the Devil, and the Soldier taken by Aaron Copland, John Cage and Elliott Carter respectively. Sadly this performance isn't in the Stravinsky box.

I'll be dipping into this set on the Overgrown Path radio programme in the autumn, Requiem Canticles (or 'Requicles' as Robert Craft called them) will be top of the list. The Works of Stravinsky are a delight from start to finish. Buy it before Sony realise they made a mistake with the price.

Now follow this path for another unmissable bargain box of CDs.
Anectdotal information from the controversial And Music at the Close: Stravinsky's Last Years by Lillian Libman (Macmillan ISBN 333143043). Photo (c) On An Overgrown Path, taken on the living room carpet a few minutes ago! Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

6 comments:

Ian said...

Looks like they realized their mistake--can't find it anywhere on Prelude or Amazon. I'm curious to see whether the versions Stravinsky conducted featuring the Gregg Smith Singers are in there--my dad sang on those recordings.

Pliable said...

Ian, strangely it's not on Amazon.com, but it's on Amazon.co.uk here, but the performers aren't listed.

But I can tell you yes, the Gregg Smith singers are featured on Pers├ęphone, The Flood, Mass, Introitus and the Requiem Canticles.

Ian said...

Thanks for finding that--just picked one up from Amazon UK. It'll make a great gift for my dad.

Pliable said...

Email received:

Hello - One of the first concerts I attended after moving to New York in 1981 was a performance of L'Histoire conducted by Craft, with Copland as the narrator, Sessions as the soldier, and Virgil Thomson as the devil. Sessions made the audience laugh when he - unconsciously or purposely? - passed his hand over his mostly bald head while the text spoke of the soldier's hair standing on end.

Speculum Musicae, the renowned New York new music group, played. In the audience at that concert was pianist Robert Miller - the last time I saw him before his premature death of cancer at age 50. Miller was a leading pianist on the New York contemporary music scene for many years. Visit this link
and scroll down:

Did you hear about this performance, here and here, of L'Histoire last summer at Tanglewood?

It featured John Harbison as the Narrator, Milton Babbitt as the Devil and Elliott Carter as the soldier. In the Times article, Carter speaks of yet another all-star performance of the piece, this one with John Cage as the devil.

good wishes,

Jim Primosch
--
Dr. James Primosch
Robert Weiss Professor of Music
Department of Music
University of Pennsylvania

Pliable said...

Here is the Prelude Records link for readers who want to support an independent retailer.

tone row said...

Far better than that, £17.99 at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Works-Igor-Stravinsky-Box-Set/dp/B000PTYUQG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1236189346&sr=8-1

Thanks to Alex Ross for heads up on this: http://www.therestisnoise.com/2009/01/bargain-of-the-week.html