24 April 2012

Stravinsky in America

Easy CD-DA | FLAC tracks | Covers | 295 Mb
September 16, 1997 | RCA Victor Red Seal | 75:40

If there were a Grammy Award for funniest cover art, this would sweep the boards. Thomas' generous and enjoyable anthology of scores produced during Igor Stravinsky's more than three decades in the U.S. comes adorned with an illustration of the young conductor chauffeuring a starry-eyed Stravinsky around Beverly Hills in what looks like an old Mercury Comet.

The music (or most of it, at any rate) is more serious than that. The longest and most substantial of the 10 pieces is the ballet for 12 dancers, "Agon" (1957), a marvelously drypoint study in unusual instrumental timbres that prefigured Stravinsky's late conversion to serial technique, which in turn produced the epigrammatic "Huxley" Variations of 1965. Dance is also the generating impulse of one of his more reactionary works, "Scenes de ballet," written for a Broadway revue in 1945. And there is the elegiac "Ode" from 1943, music recycled from proposed Hollywood soundtracks that never made it to film.

Thomas knew and worked with the aged composer while both musicians lived in Southern California during the 1950s and '60s. His clean, controlled, vital performances reflect the commitment and dedication that came out of that association. The sound is appropriately clear and well-balanced. A self-recommending issue, especially for Stravinsky collectors.

Track 8 "Greeting Prelude" is a humourous arrangement of the tune "Happy Birthday To You".
Track 9 "Canon" is based on a theme taken from "The Firebird".


1. The Star Spangled Banner
2. Circus Polka (composed for a Young Elephant)
3. Ode (Triptychon for Orchestra)
4. Scherzo à la russe (symphonic version)
5. Scènes de ballet
6. Concertino for Twelve Instruments
7. Agon (Ballet for Twelve Dancers)
8. Greeting Prelude (for the Eightieth Birthday of Pierre Monteux)
9. Canon (on a Russian Popular Tune)
10. Variations: Aldous Huxley in Memoriam

London Symphony Orchestra
Conductor – Michael Tilson Thomas

I'm beginning here to resurrect some of the works that "disappeared" from Avax or were "abandoned" from the original uploaders. There's not a real thought behind it, I'm just cleaning up my HDs and following the wind. What I downloaded long ago is flowing back. All credits go to the first uploader. Enjoy...

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