Stravinsky: The Rake’s Progress

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COMPOSERS: Stravinsky
LABELS: MusicMasters
WORKS: The Rake’s Progress
PERFORMER: Jayne West, Jon Garrison, Arthur Woodley, John CheekGregg Smith Singers, Orchestra of St Luke’s/Robert Craft
The latest volume of Robert Craft’s Stravinsky the Composer series complements a recent article in the New York Review of Books, in which he criticises the libretto of The Rake, and even expresses reservations about some elements of the music. Though it has the brilliance and orchestral splendour of earlier performances in the MusicMasters cycle, it also betrays a certain impatience with the work. Tempi are quick, sometimes honouring metronome marks that others don’t, sometimes considerably exceeding them. Breathing spaces between numbers are clipped (editorially,it may be), so that a sort of breathlessness results. Even the tenderness of the final scenes, which Craft regards as the best music, is rarely indulged. Very different, much of this, from the composer’s own studio recordings, at which Craft assisted.