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Warsaw Philharmonic Archive – Craft and Stravinsky
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)

Variations (1964)
Symphony of Psalms (1930)
Firebird – Berceuse and Finale only (1910)
Warsaw Philharmonic Choir
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Robert Craft (Variations)
Igor Stravinsky – remainder
Recorded in concert at the Warsaw Philharmonic, 28 May 1965
CD ACCORD 116-2 [37.23]


Notable for the recently composed Variations, conducted by Robert Craft, this May 1965 concert also includes a moving Symphony of Psalms led by the composer and two extracts from the Firebird. Accord’s notes, as is consonant with this series of Archive recordings from the Warsaw Philharmonic, don’t delve into matters relating to the actual concert. I would certainly like to know what else was performed that night – because here we only get thirty-seven minutes. Was The Firebird complete?

There is fortunately and appropriately great clarity of sound and the tapes have seemingly suffered little or no deterioration. The orchestra sounds well drilled and the Philharmonic Choir cope well, though not impeccably, with the demands in the Symphony – there is sometimes a muddiness in texture and balance that jars. The orchestral principals acquit themselves with distinction in the Variations, and the bass clarinet makes a notable contribution; wind chording is precise. The Symphony performance stresses its lyricism, not least in Laudate Dominum, but as ever Stravinsky’s rhythm is taut and vital and it emerges strengthened as a result. The woodwinds’ activity in the final movement is an indication of their commitment and the final choral Alleluias are increasingly convincing and cumulatively moving. The greater clarity and forward characterisation of Stravinsky’s CBC recording can hardly be denied but this is a welcome expansion of Stravinsky’s concert discography.

Jonathan Woolf


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