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Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Violin Concerto in D major (1931) [21:02]
Pulcinella, ballet suite (1922) [25:26]
Jeu de Cartes (1936) [23:10]
Mouvements for piano and orchestra (1958-59) [5:52]
David Oistrakh (violin)
Margrit Weber (piano)
Lamoureux Orchestra/Bernard Haitink (concerto)
Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Klemperer (Pulcinella)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Igor Stravinsky (Jeu)
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Ferenc Fricsay (Mouvements)
rec. 1963 Salle Wagram, Paris (Violin Concerto): 1963, London (Pulcinella): 1957, Deutsches Museum, Munich (Jeu de Cartes); 1961, Berlin (Mouvements)
PRAGA DIGITALS PRD250329 [78:37]

I’m never quite sure of Praga’s programming policy in its bewilderingly scattershot ‘Genuine Stereo Lab’ series. In fact I’m not even sure what ‘Genuine Stereo Lab’ means. However, in a nutshell, this Stravinsky disc takes one live broadcast – Stravinsky’s own 1957 direction of Jeu de Cartes in Munich – and adds three studio inscriptions to assemble a genuine hodgepodge.

The Violin Concerto is in the hands of David Oistrakh with Bernard Haitink conducting the Concerts Lamoureux in 1963. This ex-Philips recording doesn’t differ markedly from the slightly earlier preserved performance Oistrakh gave in Moscow with Kondrashin, or the Berlin Symphony/Sanderling, but the studio recording with Haitink is much more detailed, the winds being especially prominent. Oistrakh’s gutsy wit is not overburdened with too heavy a vibrato, as one tends to find in his late style, but there’s both warmth and pirouetting detailing a-plenty.

Pulcinella is played by Klemperer and the Philharmonia slightly earlier in 1963. He had first conducted it back in 1922 and it remained one of his favourite Stravinsky works. You can also find this recording on Warner. We encounter a rather objectified, mordant approach from the hero of the Weimar Kroll, somewhat devoid of racy frolics, but almost grimly playful. The brass are on especially fine form – in fact the Philharmonia earned their keep as one of the world’s very best at this time – and Klemperer’s almost-droll approach to the seventh section, the Vivo, is indeed almost sleazy.

Jeu de Cartes is a piece Stravinsky had recorded in Berlin before the war – you can find it on Pristine PASC462, for instance. He had radically altered his approach to the central panel – the movement with the variations and coda – which is now much slower than it had been in 1938. But the outer movements are still lithe and exciting and the composer-executant gets compelling results from the Bavarian Radio Orchestra. Finally there is Mouvements with Margrit Weber, the prismically alert soloist, and Ferenc Fricsay on fine form directing his Berlin Radio Symphony forces. Bravo to the orchestra’s clarinet principal who plays with great eloquence.

This rather ungainly collection has at least presented first-class performances in good sound and with good notes. I still don’t really follow Praga’s thinking or nomenclature of its albums, but there are certainly nuggets to be found if you know where to look.

Jonathan Woolf



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