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Thread: Essential Stravinsky Recordings

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Default Essential Stravinsky Recordings

    This will be a companion thread to my recent "Essential Schoenberg" thread, in honor of another 20th century giant of Modern music, Igor Stravinsky. I have been coming to appreciate his music more lately, to which (outside of an early initial draw to the famous, Russian ballets) I have never really been fully receptive or understanding. I think finding the right recordings is essential in getting to understand his music better, and I'm sure myself and others will benefit from this thread.

    So here are a few recordings that I rate as not only great, but essential in understanding Stravinsky's music:

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    Pierre Boulez, Cleveland Orchestra. Le Sacre du Printemps. Both his most famous and most revolutionary of the early ballets, and Boulez's excellent conducting alongside Cleveland's famously precise and lean playing results in a beautiful match up. Crystal clear. Really allows a lot of insight into the great music. Perhaps blasphemously, I prefer this recording over the following:

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    Igor Stravinsky, Columbia Symphony Orchestra. Le Sacre du Printemps and Petrouchka. He takes most of the tempos faster in the Rite, and in general the playing is not quite as tight or precise, but it's the man himself conducting. Clearly a lot to be learned from this. I have not heard any other Petrouchka, but the account on this disc is also very good.

    51PMdn2ygNL._SY355_.jpg

    Pierre Boulez, Berlin Philharmonic. Symphonies of Wind Instruments, Symphony of Psalms, Symphony in Three Movements. The famous symphonies of his neoclassical period. I am new to these works, but it was Boulez's performance of Psalms which won me over to this amazing and powerful work. Great playing from Berlin as always.

    71XfraT6u2L._SX355_.jpg

    Itzhak Perlman, Seiji Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra. Despite being overshadowed by the phenomenal Berg concerto that shares the disc, this performance of Stravinsky's violin concerto is also very good. Perlman plays with a lot of bite. Ozawa's Boston sounds great.

    Anyway, that's about all I got. Can anyone else add to my very limited list? I have no Firebird, hardly any of the Neoclassical period, and zero of the later 12-tone works.

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    Senior Member Joe B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    .....I have no Firebird.....
    Might I suggest this one:



    This is the full ballet version (1910). The performance is excellent. The recording was made at EMI's Abbey Road Studio, and it is outstanding. The sound of the orchestra emerges from a perfectly silent, black background. The engineers nailed this recording. The sound stage and imaging are amazing. If you're after purchasing a "Firebird", you can not go wrong with this recording.
    I love music. I want music. I need music.

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe B View Post
    Might I suggest this one:



    This is the full ballet version (1910). The performance is excellent. The recording was made at EMI's Abbey Road Studio, and it is outstanding. The sound of the orchestra emerges from a perfectly silent, black background. The engineers nailed this recording. The sound stage and imaging are amazing. If you're after purchasing a "Firebird", you can not go wrong with this recording.
    I like what I'm hearing, ordered a used copy for $5 in total. Couldn't pass it up at that price. I will get back to you when I hear the whole thing. Thanks!

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    There's a blu-ray with Gergiev and the Ballet Russes doing both Firebird and Rite of Spring. It's pretty good. The Rite of Spring is a recreation of the first Paris staging.

    When it comes to favorite Stravinsky recordings, the first recording of Petrushka by Stokowski and the Philadelphia is a must have.
    Last edited by bigshot; May-21-2019 at 01:20.

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Is this the one?

    51lCmbyGG7L.jpg

    Added to my wish list. I don't have hardly any "world premiere" recordings like this. I like what little I've heard of Stokowski's conducting.

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    yes, that is it. 1929!
    Last edited by bigshot; May-21-2019 at 07:57.

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    You might want to give this a try, it's one of my favs.

    "You should only listen to yourself. That’s your only job, really, as an artist. Even if you’re completely wrong, that’s what an artist does, listen to one’s self."

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    There's a blu-ray with Gergiev and the Ballet Russes doing both Firebird and Rite of Spring. It's pretty good. The Rite of Spring is a recreation of the first Paris staging.
    "You should only listen to yourself. That’s your only job, really, as an artist. Even if you’re completely wrong, that’s what an artist does, listen to one’s self."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Score reader View Post
    You might want to give this a try, it's one of my favs.

    More Dorati

    51ZPNBHGPGL.jpg

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    ^ Must check that out (both). I am a big fan of Dorati's conducting.

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    I have not heard the famous Les Noces. Who has recorded a good version?

    Same question goes for Histoire du Soldat.
    Last edited by flamencosketches; May-21-2019 at 11:39.

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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Stravinsky himself is as good as anyone in Les Noces

    Histoire du Soldat is a different kettle of fish, it comes in two basic forms, the full theatre piece, with narrator et al, and the more familiar (?) Suite. Boulez is very good in the former, there seems to be much more choice in the latter. My personal feeling is the whole thing needs to be seen, not just heard, so as music, the suite works better. Sacrilege, I am sure....

    And further sacrilege, I love the end of The Firebird, but the preceding forty minutes or so bore me senseless....

    My favourite Stravinsky after Petrushka (for me his best ballet) and The Rite, are some of the larger-scale, less obvious masterpieces. The three early ballets are possibly his best music, but not his only music. Apollo is a heart-breakingly beautiful piece of music, Orpheus not far behind; and there are some immensely wonderful pieces elsewhere, the fabulous Violin Concerto, the Symphony of Psalms, and the brief but powerful Requiem Canticles spring immediately to mind.
    Last edited by CnC Bartok; May-21-2019 at 12:08.

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    Stravinsky himself is as good as anyone in Les Noces

    Histoire du Soldat is a different kettle of fish, it comes in two basic forms, the full theatre piece, with narrator et al, and the more familiar (?) Suite. Boulez is very good in the former, there seems to be much more choice in the latter. My personal feeling is the whole thing needs to be seen, not just heard, so as music, the suite works better. Sacrilege, I am sure....

    And further sacrilege, I love the end of The Firebird, but the preceding forty minutes or so bore me senseless....

    My favourite Stravinsky after Petrushka (for me his best ballet) and The Rite, are some of the larger-scale, less obvious masterpieces. The three early ballets are possibly his best music, but not his only music. Apollo is a heart-breakingly beautiful piece of music, Orpheus not far behind; and there are some immensely wonderful pieces elsewhere, the fabulous Violin Concerto, the Symphony of Psalms, and the brief but powerful Requiem Canticles spring immediately to mind.
    In fact there are two suites, one for seven musicians and one for three.

    And if you're going to mention Apollo and Orpheus you need to include (IMHO) Agon. Sony issued budget box a number of years back devoted to Stravinsky conducting his own ballets. Maybe there's a used copy floating around somewhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    In fact there are two suites, one for seven musicians and one for three.

    And if you're going to mention Apollo and Orpheus you need to include (IMHO) Agon. Sony issued budget box a number of years back devoted to Stravinsky conducting his own ballets. Maybe there's a used copy floating around somewhere.
    Happy to concur with the "Agon is a masterpiece too" idea. That said, it's not one of my favourite Stravinsky pieces. Respect, rather than love.....oddly it can't be the serial issue, am perfectly happy with it in the Requiem Canticles!

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    Happy to concur with the "Agon is a masterpiece too" idea. That said, it's not one of my favourite Stravinsky pieces. Respect, rather than love.....oddly it can't be the serial issue, am perfectly happy with it in the Requiem Canticles!
    It may help to hear it at the ballet. I once heard a two piano version, which I believe was used in the rehearsal room. That was far less interesting musically.

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