Stravinsky: Octet; Concertino; Concerto in D; Suite No. 1 for Small Orchestra; Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra

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COMPOSERS: Stravinsky
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Octet; Concertino; Concerto in D; Suite No. 1 for Small Orchestra; Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra
PERFORMER: Orpheus CO
CATALOGUE NO: 453 458-2
Miniatures are often overlooked when discussing a composer’s output. They are rarely the pieces which grab the headlines, cause a riot or change the course of musical history. This is a pity as small-scale works often contain eccentricities and experiments which are either absorbed or suppressed for the more public forum of a substantial composition. The ability of miniatures to reveal hidden facets of a composer’s personality imbues them with an importance which is disproportionate to their brevity.

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Unfortunately, bundling these works together can be like being in a room filled with political mavericks jostling each other in order to deliver a soundbite on their pet issue. Careful planning is required if the brain is not to switch off in the face of such an onslaught. Despite polished performances and slick presentation, this new disc of shavings from Stravinsky’s workbench makes a distinctly unsatisfying whole. For instance, the collection would make much more sense if it opened with the Praeludium for jazz ensemble. Similarly, the Fanfare for a New Theatre, written for just two trumpets, would make a greater impact if placed after just about any piece other than the Duet for two bassoons. Wonderful performances which should be sampled in small doses. Christopher Dingle