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Hyperion Records

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The Ballet by Grace Cossington Smith (1892-1984)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CKD330
Recording details: November 2008
Église maronite Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France
Produced by Philip Hobbs
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: September 2009
Total duration: 30 minutes 57 seconds

'In Stravinsky's 'ballet blanc' for string orchestra, Apollon Musagète (1928), he [Janiczek] steers a middle way between the suave smoothness of the Karajan approach and the edgy haste Stravinsky's own later readings tended to take on. Tempos are moderate, but there is no lack of spring to the rhythms while the opening of the ‘Pas de deux' is mesmerising in its translucent poise. The Suite from the Baroque make-over Pulcinella (1920) is an altogether livelier, gutsier affair as delivered here, with a terrific rhythmic snap to the finale' (BBC Music Magazine) » More

'Warm, silky, flexible and lithe, the core sound of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe's strings under director/violinist Alexander Janiczek bends easily to the capricious moods and textures of Apollon musagète. Baroque music was Stravinsky's model, yet Calliope, Polymnie and Terpsichore could be soubrettes in an Offenbach opera bouffe. There's more brilliance, edge and variety in the Pulcinella Suite. François Leleux's sinuous oboe solos in the 'Serenata' and 'Gavotta' beguile' (The Independent on Sunday)

'Das Chamber Orchestra of Europe ist allerdings—vergleichbar mit der Kremerata Baltica—ein Ensemble, das auch ohne einen großen Dirigenten auf einem gewissen Niveau immer funktioniert. Hört man allein die ungebrochene Spielfreude der Streicher, wird man daran keinen Zweifel mehr haben' (Klassik.com, Germany) » More

Apollon musagète
composer
1927-1928

Pas d'action  [4'45]
Pas de deux  [4'05]
Apothéose  [3'49]

Other recordings available for download
London Symphony Orchestra, Sir John Eliot Gardiner (conductor)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Apollon musagète must surely be the apogee of what became known as Stravinsky’s ‘neoclassicism’. Commissioned by the American patron Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, Stravinsky chose, as he explains in his autobiography, ‘to compose a ballet founded on moments or episodes in Greek mythology plastically interpreted by dancing of the so-called classical school’. He wanted to create what he termed a ‘ballet blanc’, a score of great blanc’ purity and unity, in which violent contrasts were avoided and all elements were pared down to their simplest. Hence it is scored for strings alone and makes almost exclusive use of diatonic harmony (the equivalent of the ‘white notes’ on the piano keyboard). For Georges Balanchine, choreographer of the 1928 European premiere, the work was a revelation: ‘In its discipline and restraint, in its sustained oneness of tone and feeling … [Apollon] seemed to tell me that I could dare not to use everything, that I, too, could eliminate’. The result was the perfect union of music and dance in the expression of pure, classical beauty.

And how did Stravinsky achieve this sense of order as symbolised by the Greek god Apollo? One means was to look to poetry. Each dance explores a basic iambic (short–long) pattern; the ‘Variation of Calliope’ (the muse of poetry) is headed by two lines from Boileau and takes the twelve-syllable lines of the alexandrine as its rhythmic model. Another means was to allude to the stateliness of French Baroque dances, such as the ouverture style of the opening ‘Birth of Apollo’ or the pavane-like second ‘Variation of Apollo’. The closing ‘Apotheosis’, Apotheosis’ in which Apollo leads the three Muses towards Parnassus, brings together the various rhythmic elements of the work in music that is not just serenely beautiful but also seems to speak of something deeper and darker, something beyond reason and order. Stravinsky looks back to ancient Greece, but is ultimately only able to see the reflection of his own tragic age. Even when at his most classical, we hear, once again, the voice of Stravinsky the exile.

from notes by Jonathan Cross © 2009


Other albums featuring this work
'Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex & Apollon musagète' (LSO0751)
Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex & Apollon musagète
MP3 £6.50FLAC £6.50ALAC £6.50 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 96 kHz £9.75ALAC 24-bit 96 kHz £9.75 LSO0751  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

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