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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from LSO0751
Recording details: May 2013
Barbican, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Nicholas Parker
Engineered by Jonathan Stokes
Release date: April 2014
Total duration: 30 minutes 12 seconds

'With its unflagging direction, its strong sense of drama and its mostly impeccable singing, Gardiner is a serious contender for anyone wanting a version to put alongside the classic versions' (International Record Review)

'Factor in tight, crisp playing by the LSO, the fine Jocasta of Jennifer Johnston and subtle string colouring in Apollon Musagète, and it adds up to a fine celebration' (Yorkshire Post)

'It makes sense that the conductor John Eliot Gardiner, a pioneer of the early music movement, and the impressive Monteverdi Choir, founded by Mr Gardner in 1964, would have a special feeling for the old-world musical elements of Oedipus Rex, all of which come through on this gripping recording taken from live performances with the London Symphony Orchestra last year' (The New York Times)

Apollon musagète

Pas d'action  [4'27]
Pas de deux  [4'38]
Apothéose  [3'33]

Other recordings available for download
Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Alexander Janiczek (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: Apollon musagète & Pulcinella' (CKD330)
Stravinsky: Apollon musagète & Pulcinella
MP3 £8.00FLAC £9.00ALAC £9.00 CKD330  Download only  

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