Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Stravinsky, RSO Berlin • Riccardo Chailly ‎– Symphonie De Psaumes

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

Riccardo Chailly was chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1982 to 1989, making dozens of fine recordings during that time period, including a splendid trio of recordings from 20th Century masters – I featured his Carmina Burana in one of my Friday montages last year, and I appreciated his reading of Deryck Cooke’s “reconstruction:” of Mahler’s 10th. Today’s edition of Vinyl’s Revenge pairs Chailly with another 20th Century composer, Igor Stravinsky in a trio of short works and one major one – his Symphony of Psalms.

Unlike many pieces composed for chorus and orchestra, Stravinsky said that “it is not a symphony in which I have included Psalms to be sung. On the contrary, it is the singing of the Psalms that I am symphonizing.”

The work was commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Although the piece was written for the Boston orchestra, the world premiere was actually given in Brussels by the Société Philharmonique de Bruxelles on December 13, 1930, under the direction of Ernest Ansermet.

Igor Stravinsky's cantata Zvezdoliki' (Звездоликий, The King of the Stars), set to a text by the Russian poet Konstantin Balmont, was composed in 1911–12, thus contemporaneous to his great trilogy of ballets – FirebirdPetrouchka and the Rite of Spring. The original Russian title literally means "Star-face" or "The Star-Faced One". The work is more commonly known by the French title as translated by Michel-Dimitri Calvocoressi, Le Roi des Étoles, thus explaining its usual English title.

Claude Debussy, to whom the work is dedicated, praised the work in a 1913 letter to the composer; though describing it as "extraordinary". The work is very rarely performed however as it is probably too elaborate (written for an unusually large orchestra plus six-part men's chorus) for not much payoff (barely five minutes and encompasses just 54 measures). In fact, it was not performed in public until 1939.

Le chant du rossignol (in English, The Song of the Nightingale), is a symphonic poem written by Stravinsky in 1917. The score is adapted from his earlier 1914 opera, Le rossignol (The Nightingale), based on Hans Christian Andersen's tale. The symphonic poem mostly uses music from acts two and three of the 1914 opera. Although not conceived as a dance piece at first, the piece’s ballet debut occurred on February 2, 1920 at the Theatre National de l'Opera in Paris. Stravinsky himself was not entirely pleased. "I had destined Le Chant du Rossignol for the concert platform, and a choreographic rendering seemed to me to be quite unnecessary," he says later in his autobiography.

Stravinsky agreed to do a revival of the ballet in 1925 and for the occasion, Diaghilev chose one of his newest students, George Balanchine, to choreograph the ballet. This is when Stravinsky first met Balanchine, who later became his most important creative partner.

To complete the album, Chailly chose the short orchestral fantasy, Feu d'artifice (Fireworks).

Happy listening!

Igor STRAVIN SKY (1882-1971)
Symphony of Psalms (1930)
Feu d'Artifice, op.4
Le Roi des Étoiles (1911-12)
Le Chant du Rossignol (1914-17)

Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin Und Chor
(Chorus Master – Ernst Senff)
Riccardo Chailly, conducting

Recorded at Jesus Christus Kirche, Berlin. February 1984

Decca ‎– 414 078-1 (Vinyl, LP DDA)
Details - https://www.discogs.com/Stravinsky-R...elease/9404265

Posted to YouTube by Arquivista dos Sons.

Internet Archive copy