This unique disc will prove an invaluable addition to the Stravinsky catalogue, and a ’must have’ for all fans of both composer and artists alike.
Stravinsky had an enormous impact on twentieth-century music, perhaps more than any other composer. He has secured a permanent place in the repertoire and much of his music has become ’popular’ - rare for a ’serious’ composer of this century. He was quite prolific and his music falls into definable styles; in the early 1920s, he experimented with neo-classicism, and at the same time, developed an extreme liking for wind-insruments - this trait is found in all the works on this disc.
The Symphonies of Wind Instruments was completed in 1920, though it is not a symphony in the Brahms and Beethoven tradition; rather Stravinsky uses the word as to mean ’sounding together’.
The Concerto for piano and wind instruments was originally written for piano and string quartet (1920), but transcribed for wind instruments in 1952. Its style can be said to be angular and non-lyrical, with the focus more on accents, rythm and timbres, but it also effectively employs Russian folk-tunes.
Stravinsky’s model for the Octet of 1923 was the pre-classical sinfonia, a symmetrical work with clear contrasted sections, themes and tonality. It is an attractive piece which deserves to be better known.
Stravinsky made orchestrations for Diaghilev’s London revival of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty in 1921 which marked an important turning point in his artistic life. The great nineteenth-century master was a significant model for this work, though the language is very much Stravinsky’s own. The whimsical four-character plot is based on farce by Pushkin and, though it was initially a failiure, recent performances have meet with success. Indeed Stravinsky thought highly of it, and persuassive performances - such as the one on this - can make this charming piece of nonsense really come alive.
"The chamber-opera Mavra is scored for wind instruments and string septet.... The four singers are member of Kirov Opera, outstanding being Tatiana Kravtsova and the tenor Alexei Martynov as her hussar, and the playing of the Netherlands Ensemble’s woodwind and brass is crisp and accurate. Thierry Fischer also conducts admirable performances of the Symphonies of Wind Instruments, that moving elegy for Debussy, and of the Concertino in its 1952 version ... The 1923 Octet is even finer, as music and performance."
The Sunday Telegraph - 10 May 1998