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Hommage á Igor Stravinsky
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)

Fanfare for a New Theatre (1964) [0’48]
Three Pieces for String Quartet (1914) [6’24]
Three Easy Pieces for Piano Duet (1914/15) [4’01]
Five Easy Pieces for Piano Duet (1919/17) [6’22]
Epitaphium (1959) [1’40]
Double Canon in memoriam Raoul Dufy (1959) [1’27]
Valse pour les enfants (1917) [0’50]
Les cinq doigts (1921) [8’18]
Souvenir d’une marche boche (1915) [1’44]
Pour Pablo Picasso (1917) [0’20]
Three Pieces for Clarinet solo (1919) [4’42]
Valse des fleurs (1914) [0’42]
Three Pieces for String Quartet arr. for piano duet by the composer (1914) [7’19]
Luciano BERIO (1925-2003)

Autre fois (berceuse canonique pour Igor Stravinsky) (1971) [0’51]
Edison DENISOV (1929-1996)

Canon en Mémoire d’Igor Stravinsky (1971) [3’09]
Pierre BOULEZ (b.1925)

Originel-transitoire VII (1971) [5’34]
Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998)

Canon for two Violins, Viola and Cello in memoriam Igor Stravinsky (1971) [5’33]
Elliott CARTER (b.1908)

Canon for Three - in memoriam Igor Stravinsky (1971) [1’14]
Ensemble Avantgarde
rec. Rathaussaal Markkleeberg, Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen, July 5-6 2004
MDG 613 1333-2 [62’09]


This is such a good idea I’m surprised no-one has thought of it before. It’s typical of companies such as Dabringhaus und Grimm to give attention to intelligent programming like this, as well as gathering together a group of virtuoso players to bring it off.

The premise is so simple. The Stravinsky pieces are small-scale chamber and instrumental works, some of which are familiar, some not, and some of which are his trademark ‘in memoriam’ miniatures. Interspersed are other miniatures by a group of composers invited to write their own ‘in memoriams’ for Stravinsky himself in 1971. So we get a touching picture of the man himself and a group of hommages by composers influenced by him in one way or another. That their works are so diverse is indicative of the range of that influence as well as making for very interesting comparative listening.

Of the Stravinsky pieces, I guess the most familiar will be the Three Pieces for String Quartet (here also in the composer’s own arrangement for piano duet) and the Three Pieces for Clarinet solo. Both are spiky little works, already redolent of the neo-classical neatness that would soon consume him, but in the String Quartet pieces still displaying the wisps of far-Eastern harmonies that one encounters in other works of his from the period. They work well in piano duet form, as many Stravinsky works do, especially in the lively hands of Steffen Schleiermacher, who plays both parts double-tracked. I love the Fanfare for a New Theatre (actually the Lincoln Theatre in New York) and wonder what on earth the commissioning body must have made of it. It’s typical of those quirky little fanfares we hear in other late works of his (Agon, Requiem Canticles) and lasts less than a minute.

The Double Canon for Raoul Dufy gives a clue as to what the later composers have taken as the starting point for their own memoriam commissions. Almost all are short canonic constructions, the most interesting being those by Denisov and Schnittke, where rigorous intellectualism is tempered by warmth and a hint of emotion. The same cannot really be said of those by Carter and Boulez, whose original-transitoire VII is the most adventurous thing here, though Stravinsky himself may well have been impressed by its cool detachment.

The recorded sound is warm and immediate, ideal for chamber music, and the short but illuminating notes are by Schleiermacher himself. A very worthwhile release

Tony Haywood


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