New Stravinsky recording box sets honour his 50th anniversary
An impressive array of box set compilations and reissues from the major record companies, featuring leading performing artists, honours the 50th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s death on 6 April.
The 50th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s death in 1971 is honoured on the 6 April and record companies have been mining their archives to issue new box sets of the composer’s music. The recorded legacy covers Stravinsky’s complete output and the centrality of the repertoire over the past century is emphasised by the starry list of conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Riccardo Chailly, Simon Rattle and the composer himself. As well as the new boxes from Deutsche Grammophon, Warner Classics, Decca and Sony, Tony Palmer is reissuing his classic Stravinsky documentary Once at a Border in a new presentation set produced for the anniversary.
Deutsche Grammophon’s New Stravinsky Complete Edition runs to 30 CDs and expands on the last edition released in 2015. Highlights include the three early ballets conducted by Boulez, Abbado’s recording of the complete Pulcinella, John Eliot Gardiner’s The Rake’s Progress with Ian Bostridge and Bryn Terfel, and late Stravinsky works conducted by Oliver Knussen. The accompanying 150-page booklet in English, French and German has a foreword by Roger Wright (former Head of A & R at Deutsche Grammophon) and essays by leading Stravinsky authors Richard Taruskin and Stephen Walsh, with a chronology and a selection of evocative historical photos
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The Warner Classics Igor Stravinsky Edition spreads the bulk of the composer’s output across 23 CDs, with recording dates ranging over 90 years from 1928 to 2019. The new box draws together recordings from the Warner, Erato and EMI back catalogues and has the bonus of historic recordings of Stravinsky himself appearing as conductor and pianist. Highlights include Simon Rattle’s versions of Symphony of Psalms, Apollo and the Ebony Concerto, James Conlon’s The Nightingale and Kent Nagano’s The Rakes Progress with Dawn Upshaw, Jerry Hadley and Samuel Ramey.
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Riccardo Chailly remains one of the most distinguished of modern interpreters of Stravinsky and a new 11-disc collection from Decca is due for release on 30 April. This gathers familiar material such as The Rakes’s Progress with Philip Langridge in the title role, neo-classical works with the London Sinfonietta and Chailly’s premiere recording of the composer’s recently rediscovered Funeral Song. New material includes recordings with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Le chant du Rossignol, Oedipus Rex and Agon.
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Leonard Bernstein eulogised Stravinsky as “the last great father-figure of Western music” and the conductor’s special connection with the composer is celebrated by Sony in a new 8-CD collection. Bernstein conducts Stravinsky, available from 30 April, draws on recordings for Columbia Masterworks and RCA Victor. His explosive 1958 studio recording of The Rite of Spring with the New York Philharmonic can be heard alongside other remastered performances including Symphony of Psalms with the London Symphony Orchestra and Oedipus Rex with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tatiana Troyanos as Jocasta. The box is completed with a recorded extract from one of Bernstein’s prestigious Harvard lectures in 1973, focusing on Stravinsky’s Petrushka.
Tony Palmer’s classic documentary on Stravinsky, Once at a Border, is repackaged in a special anniversary box set, due for release on the day itself, 6 April, and now available for pre-order. As well as the film on DVD, the box contains CDs of the recorded extracts made for the documentary, a souvenir brochure and a collection of postcards. Appearing on the film are Vera Stravinsky, the composer’s children, and a cast of creative luminaries including Balanchine, Cocteau, Nabokov and Picasso.
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