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