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CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Orchestral Miniatures
Tango [3:27]
Suite No. 1 for small orchestra [4:41]
Suite No. 2 for small orchestra [6:15]
Concerto in D, for string orchestra (1946) [11:49]
Concertino arr. (1952) of original work for string quartet (1920) [6:20]
Octet for wind instruments rev. version (1952) [14:44]
3 Pieces for String Quartet [7:21]
Praeludium for jazz ensemble [1:47]
Ragtime [4:33]
Duet for bassoons [0:42]
Fanfare for a new theatre [0:36]
Scherzo ā la russe for jazz orchestra [3:44]
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
rec. 1995, Purchase, New York, USA


Experience Classicsonline

Stravinsky exercises a strong fascination in these compact miniatures. DG (originally) and Orpheus offer a full range of the miniatures. You might not be inclined to start your Stravinsky shelf here but even if you did I think you would find yourself reeled in. Tango is acerbically hypnotic and every smoking line registers superbly. The two suites encompass eight really short movements ranging from the serene Andante to the flirty Napolitana to a rather Herrmann-like chesty and chasing Espaņola to a casual imperial Balalaika to an absurdist March, to a wheezy Petrushka-like waltz, to a showy Polka to an Ibert-style Galop. The Concerto in D for String Orchestra goes for longer movements - three of them - but the style is more stern in the outer chapters than in the two orchestral suites. The central Arioso is a little more relaxed and there’s even the semblance of nostalgia for candlelit ballrooms - a hint of Prokofiev here. The Concertino is an arrangement for full orchestra of a work for string quartet. It's a dark and sour little piece, not without vitality but overhung. The three movement Octet for wind instruments is pensive and a shade uptight. The Three Pieces for String Quartet throw their hand in with dissonance, sadness and a brusque taciturnity. The Praeludium for Jazz Ensemble mixes lounge-lizard inveiglements with slalom sleaze and wheezy saxophone serenades. Ragtime adds a twangy cimbalom to the canvas: jerky, populist, disillusioned and with a dash of Kurt Weill. The Duet is for two bassoons and reminded me of themes from The Rite of Spring. Fanfare for a New Theatre is unafraid of dissonance and indeed welcomes it to add savour to this brief interplay of brass voices. The final Scherzo ā la Russe for jazz orchestra is tangy, mordant and again reeks of Petrushka.
Superb recording and great notes from Emanuel Overbeeke.
This is a most enjoyable disc revealing a very concise and pungent side of stravinsky which you are the poorer for not knowing.
Rob Barnett


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