WORKS: Dumbarton Oaks; Danses concertantes; Concerto in D; Apollon musagète
PERFORMER: Sinfonietta de Montréal/Charles Dutoit
CATALOGUE NO: 440 327-2 DDD
Stravinsky himself said that his music could survive anything except wrong tempi, a point made by the one disappointing track on this otherwise excellent collection of neo-classical ballets and concertos. Though the opening pages of Dumbarton Oaks display a marvellous clockwork that slips smoothly into gear, Dutoit’s slow pace means a lack of tension that becomes critical as soon as the music strikes out in a new direction.
In contrast, the trenchant first movement of the Concerto in D is boldly expressed, with a beautifully phrased second theme that only heightens the effect of the built-in stutters and false starts of the main material. The first subject returns for a compressed recapitulation via a brisk transition passage for lower strings, often murky in performance, yet precise and clear-cut in this recording.
The Danses concertantes have plenty of élan in the March introduction and conclusion, with a theme and variations by turns humorous and serious. A calm, profound Apollon musagète is equally worth having, as pure and unruffled as the Concerto in D is spiky and unruly. Solo playing is impeccable; tutti strings are close, well balanced with plenty of middle-ground tone, heard to perfection in the concluding ‘Apothéose’. Nicholas Williams