One of most influential composers in 20th century was admittedly Igor Stravinsky, widely known for his revolutionary ballet works for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, but for musicians known more as one of rarest visionaries of modern art and first after Johann Sebastian Bach who tried to make synthesis of music as a whole. His foundation was Russian music, Igor Stravinsky (Игорь Фёдорович Стравинский) was born in Oranienbaum in Russia in 1882. His famous ballets commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev were his first step to international recognition – The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and Le sacre du printempts (1913) – and highlights of the first, Russian phase in his stylistic experiments. The Rite of Springs became famous for riots during premiere, as the answer to explicit dance style, primitive scenario and rhythmical expression exceeding far beyond conventional ballet music.
In twenties composer turned to historical styles and using old or unorthodox methods of composition he entered his music to the neoclassical phase. Spanning for more than 30 years, this direction in Stravinsky’s creative output was as much differentiated as fruitful. This phase in Stravinsky’s creative output was multidirectional, considering works in classical and baroque style, jazz and archaic modes of expression and works of various purposes. Center position of Stravinsky’s neoclassicism occupy traditional forms, operas, ballets, Symphonies, Cantatas and Concertos. Two symphonies of special meaning – Symphony of Psalms composed in 1930 and Symphony in C premiered in 1940 – were recorded as conducted by Igor Stravinsky and published together on opposite sides of one record.
|Stravinsky Conducts Symphony of Psalms (1964)|
Stravinsky was the type of artist continuously trying to improve his compositions. He didn’t consider his works as close, so when he conducted or recorded his works he was often making some editorial changes. And he recorded almost every work he composed. Many of his compositions have two or more phonographic renditions. Between 1928 and 1967 he recorded for Columbia Records (later CBS Records) which was his main label, although in forties there were also numerous performances recorded in Los Angeles for RCA Victor. Symphony of Psalms he recorded three times, shortly after premiere in 1931 with Alexei Vlassoff Choir in Paris, 1946 with Columbia Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra & Chorus and March 30, 1963 with Festival Singers of Toronto (led by Elmer Iseler) and CBC Orchestra in Toronto. Symphony in C he recorded twice, first time with Cleveland Orchestra in 1952, and second time with CBC Orchestra, December 2-3, 1964 in Toronto.
CBS Records album features Stravinsky as composer and conductor and includes perfect renditions of latest recordings of the two previously mentioned symphonies. Igor Stravinsky was also author of back cover notes. This recordings are some kind of standard performing of Stravinsky’s music. In Symphony of Psalms he is building perfect balance between choir and orchestra. Melting together human voice, wind and brass instruments gives this music unique aura of great passion and wide opened space. And this makes Symphony of Psalms so unprecedented composition in the history of music. Symphony in C in composers rendition comes with a lots of rhythmical emphasis. Some construction ideas connected to papa Haydn school solutions are not really too much obvious. Well established tempos, precise articulation and lots of expression gives this music clear modern characteristics.