Stravinsky at 85

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Stravinsky
LABELS: VAI
WORKS: Pulcinella – Suite: rehearsal and performance
PERFORMER: Toronto SO/Igor Stravinsky
CATALOGUE NO: VAI 4500 (NTSC system; mono; 4:3 picture format)

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 It might be thought that an archive film of Stravinsky conducting the suite from Pulcinella in concert and rehearsal would recommend itself to any devotee of the composer’s music.

True, any such footage has some value: it’s absorbing to see the great man overseeing his own music, with all the idiosyncrasies of his conducting style. His charm is to the fore in the rehearsal sequence, as is his preoccupation with players observing the written score precisely. It’s also instructive to observe the orchestra’s layout, with woodwind  to the conductor’s right.

Nonetheless, the pickings on this disc are far from rich, and the way the music is presented is frustrating. The rehearsal footage appears in the middle of the concert performance, slotted in at the appropriate place in the chronology. While this avoids some repetition, it also means that the disc does not actually contain a complete concert performance.

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A quarter of the running time is devoted to applause and Stravinsky being awarded a medal, for which his acceptance speech was simply ‘I am deeply, deeply touched, and I thank you’. There is an enjoyable, but brief, sequence from the rehearsal break, but no extras. Christopher Dingle