Works of Igor Stravinsky

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"Works of Igor Stravinsky" (Sony Classics)

Pretty reasonably priced set, I might pick it up.

With Works of Igor Stravinsky, Sony/BMG is offering Sony Classics' massive Stravinsky box of 22 CDs, which once retailed at a faint-inducing price tag, for less than one-sixth of the original cost. Certainly more of these will get around than the old "Recorded Legacy" box did; so prohibitively expensive, such boxes would sit at the counter of finer classical music stores for years as a never-purchased luxury item. In the new edition, you don't get much aside from the same 22 CDs in cardboard sleeves and a paper-thin booklet, which contains a highly generalized, four-page-long appreciation of Stravinsky's artistry and as close to the most basic projection of the recording data as one can imagine.

Aside from the marketing angle, Sony/BMG's Works of Igor Stravinsky has all the vicissitudes of the original Sony Classical set, apart from the old set's monolithic dimensions. No other composer born in the 1880s -- unless you count Leopold Stokowski as a "composer" -- left behind a more extensive body of recordings than Stravinsky. Stravinsky didn't make his first recording until he was 43 years old, only picking up conducting as an avocation a couple of years after that. The vast majority of Stravinsky's recordings were made for CBS Masterworks starting in 1957 -- when he was 75 years old -- and extending to 1967, when he made his last public appearances, and Works of Igor Stravinsky includes, in one way or another, some 90 percent of the music Stravinsky is known to have composed. Save the inclusion of both the Firebird Ballet and its corresponding suite, alternate incarnations of works are not found here; the dreaded, posthumously discovered Sonata in F sharp minor for piano is likewise lacking, but so are several of Stravinsky's other piano pieces and the Three Pieces for String Quartet.

[From allmusic [Works of Igor Stravinsky]]

Bound to be some good stuff here, $33 bucks for 22 discs sounds like a good cost-per-minute ratio. 433 tracks.

1 Comment

Schoenberg and Stravinsky were huge influences on me as a composer. They are a pair in my mind, like Debussy and Ravel, and everything of that era radiates from that dual hub.

I once was lucky enough to hear Boulez conduct "Petrushka" (just the score) with the LA Phil and it was revelation. It was like I'd never heard the piece before and I had the score open on my desk at home. It also shocked me how well the LA Phil can play with the right conductor. But only with the right conductor, alas.

So I feel pretty sure that you'll find something that moves you deeply in those 33 disks. Stravinsky changed quite a lot in his career, so early Stravinsky is a lot different from late Stravinsky. This might just be my imagination, but it seems to me that Stravinsky and Schoenberg started in diverse styles - Stravinsky somewhat atonal and Schoenberg very tonal - then they moved towards each other stylistically and tonally, passed each other, and ended up in each other's places - Stravinsky more neoclassical at the end of his career and Schoenberg's atonal works at the end of his. So, I guess what I'm saying is you might have to be patient with the overly clever stuff (like The Rite of Spring, which is, in my opinion, the weakest of the ballets [and it annoys a lot]) to get an overview of Stravinsky's hugeness and to know what's worth listening to again, if not obsessing on. If you don't read music, you're lucky: scores are expensive and take over your life.

Enjoy! I might get this collection for myself. Most of my Stravinsky was on vinyl and I didn't keep it when I moved to Poland in 1992 (my that was a long time ago). I have the scores though, never let go of your scores.

(I just looked at the link and it seems to be Stravinsky conducting. Hmmm...if you fall in love with anything in your collection, try to get a version conducted by Pierre Boulez, you might like it even better. Simon Rattle does great things with later Schoenberg, so he might be good with Stravinsky, too. I mean they're both great conductors, so it can't possibly be bad. I also read a few reviews and, man, I thought I was a Stravinsky freak. Now I think I really must buy this set.)

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on January 3, 2008 1:19 PM.

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