Stravinsky Works for Violin and Piano

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COMPOSERS: Stravinsky
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Works for Violin and Piano
PERFORMER: Anthony Marwood (violin), Thomas Adès (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA67723

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This substantial crop of violin and piano works mostly came about due to Stravinsky’s concert-giving partnership with the violinist Samuel Dushkin in the 1930s. Besides the Duo concertant, which is the only original creation, Stravinsky’s arrangements and/or re-compositions of his earlier music sometimes exist in more than one version, presenting a problem about what should constitute a ‘complete’ recording.

Anthony Marwood and Thomas Adès have reasonably opted for a single statement of each work, so that their chosen Pulcinella suite arrangement is the pre-Dushkin one of 1925 – not the later Suite italienne, although they also include the Scherzino which was an additional part of this.

Adès’s touch with the piano parts is at once live-wire and beautifully stylish, with Marwood matching this flair for deftly characterised light and shade. The Duo concertant can sometimes seem a cold and (in the opening ‘Cantilène’) even abrasive statement, but not when played with this degree of poise and bombproof technical command.

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The Pulcinella suite and Divertimento from The Fairy’s Kiss both scintillate from start to finish. Memories of Isabelle van Keulen’s recordings of (mostly) the same repertory (on Philips, currently unavailable) aren’t entirely effaced – for instance her subtler way with the roguishness of the ‘Chanson russe’ from Mavra – but this is splitting hairs. The recorded sound, too, has marvellous presence. Malcolm Hayes