Stravinsky's Petrushka, Symphonies of Wind Instruments and Orpheus conducted by Vladimir Jurowski

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Album title:
Stravinsky
Composer(s):
Stravinsky
Works:
Petrushka; Symphonies of Wind Instruments; Orpheus
Performer:
LPO/Vladimir Jurowski
Label:
LPO
Catalogue Number:
LPO 0091  
Performance:
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Recording:
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4
Reviewer:
BBC Music Magazine
Stravinsky's Petrushka, Symphonies of Wind Instruments and Orpheus conducted by Vladimir Jurowski

Each of these live recordings sheds intriguing light on aspects of the Stravinsky phenomenon that, even now, are less familiar than they might be. Vladimir Jurowski opts not for the more familiar, brassier, American-influenced 1947 score of Petrushka, but the French-and-Russian-sounding original. Besides the subtler and more variegated orchestral colouring, this 1911 version gives a clearer impression of the music’s roots: while both the rhythmic language and the orchestral narrative are already much more radical than in The Firebird of just a year earlier, the links with the old Russia of Stravinsky’s youth still come across with wonderful vividness. 

The same is true of the original score of Symphonies of Wind Instruments – unpublished until 2001, and similarly written for a larger ensemble than the re-worked 1947 score; an alto flute and alto clarinet add extra light and shade to music which evokes the soundworld of Russian chant. Both works are graced with strongly characterised playing under Jurowski’s precise direction: Petrushka’s opening flute solo, fetchingly delivered here, at once captures the work’s sense of wide-eyed childhood wonder. 

The 1948 ballet score Orpheus is one of Stravinsky’s most anti-rhetorical creations, which in itself makes it unusually tricky to bring off. The work’s grave beauty needs an understated touch and finesse which Jurowski and the LPO find elusive at first, although they get convincingly closer to the music’s wavelength.

Malcolm Hayes

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