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Track(s) taken from CDA67870

Song of the Volga Boatmen

1917; for wind and percussion; supposedly arranged at the request of Sergei Diaghilev to replace the Tsarist National Anthem; initially titled Hymne à la nouvelle Russie

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov (conductor)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: May 2012
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Produced by Rachel Smith
Engineered by David Hinitt & Mike Panayiotis
Release date: June 2013
Total duration: 1 minutes 19 seconds

Cover artwork: Senecio (1922) by Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'The Concerto for piano and wind … places huge demands on soloist, conductor and also recording engineers, all of whom sail through unscathed by the technical problems and the difficult sonorities' (Gramophone)

'With Steven Osborne as soloist, the concertante works are in exceptionally good hands … after the Capriccio's grandiose opening, Osborne's tight control of the piano's insistent, driving textures provides a firm foundation for the opening movement's unexpected humanity and charm' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This superb disc on which Steven Osborne manifests both his rhythmic élan and his refined sense of tonal shading, underpinning the performances with virile energy … the string-orchestra Concerto in D and two pithy orchestral miniatures complete an outstanding album' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Osborne and Volkov judge them perfectly—keeping the Concerto, as well as the slightly later Capriccio, on a tight rein, and threading a lucid path through the thickets and intricacies of the Movements' (The Guardian)

'A wonderfully ebullient, rhythmically alert performance, and the recorded sound captures the work's utterly individual sonorities very well, with crystal clarity. Volkov's conducting has a drive and energy that matches Osborne's thrilling performance of the solo part … the Capriccio is only rarely heard in the concert hall, but it deserves to be played much more often, and from Osborne it receives the most persuasive advocacy. I don't think I've heard a more immediately engaging recording of the piece … the notes by Charles M Joseph are a mine of information and the recorded sound is excellent. Philippe Entremont and Stravinsky himself are impressive in the Concerto for piano and wind but Osborne and Volkov are lighter on their toes and theirs is a really splendid performance (I can't think of a better one on CD)' (International Record Review)

'This fine Stravinsky series … Steven Osborne plays all with diamantine brilliance' (The Sunday Times)

'The outstanding work here is the Concerto for piano and wind instruments, played by Osborne in a way that finds wit in the rhythmic quirks while lending substance to the music's 18th-century references … alert accompaniments from the BBC SSO under Ilan Volkov' (Financial Times)
Stravinsky’s setting of the Song of the Volga Boatmen, scored for winds and percussion, captures the ancient spirit of a nation that remained unbendingly resilient. Over the years this iconic Russian folksong drew the attention of many composers, Mili Balakirev’s arrangement being perhaps the best known. Stravinsky’s Swiss exile during the First World War had stirred nostalgic feelings for his lost homeland as evinced in several settings of folk tales he knew as a child. With the 1917 February Revolution fresh in his mind, his memories grew particularly vivid. The composer supposedly prepared the arrangement of the Volga melody as a favour to Sergei Diaghilev. The Ballets Russes impresario needed a new work to replace the traditional playing of the Russian National Anthem ‘God Save the Tsar’ before performances. But the request for a new anthem actually came directly from the recently instated Russian parliament. Stravinsky’s manuscript reveals that he initially entitled the arrangement Hymne à la nouvelle Russie. The composer literally scored the famous song overnight, dictating the music to his friend Ernest Ansermet who dutifully took down every note. Stravinsky added a piano reduction of the work just below the orchestration. The manuscript also includes a colourful red banner on the cover, sketched by Stravinsky’s friend Picasso as an acknowledgement of the Russian Revolution.

from notes by Charles M Joseph © 2013

La version stravinskienne du Chant des bateliers du Volga, pour vents et percussion, capte l’antique esprit d’une nation qui ne se laissa jamais abattre. Au fil des ans, cet emblématique chant traditionnel russe retint l’attention de maints compositeurs, l’arrangement de Mili Balakirev étant peut-être le plus connu. Exilé en Suisse durant la Première Guerre mondiale, Stravinski avait eu la nostalgie de sa patrie perdue, comme en témoignent plusieurs mises en musique de contes populaires de son enfance. La révolution de février 1917 encore très présente à l’esprit, il eut des souvenirs particulièrement vifs. On dit qu’il arrangea cette mélodie de la Volga pour rendre service à Sergei Diaghilev, l’impresario des Ballets russes alors en quête d’une nouvelle œuvre pour remplacer la traditionnelle exécution de l’hymne national russe «Dieu sauve le tsar» avant les représentations. Mais, en réalité, la demande d’un nouvel hymne émanait directement du parlement russe, instauré depuis peu. D’après le manuscrit, Stravinski avait d’abord intitulé son arrangement Hymne à la nouvelle Russie. Il instrumenta le célèbre chant en une nuit, littéralement, dictant la musique à son ami Ernest Ansermet, qui en consigna consciencieusement chaque note. Juste sous l’orchestration, Stravinski ajouta une réduction pianistique de cette œuvre, dont la couverture du manuscrit présente un drapeau rouge esquissé par Picasso, un ami, en reconnaissance de la révolution russe.

extrait des notes rédigées par Charles M Joseph © 2013
Français: Hypérion

Strawinskys Vertonung des Liedes der Wolgaschlepper ist für Bläser und Schlagwerk angelegt und fängt den alten Geist einer Nation ein, die eine zähe Unnachgiebigkeit besaß. Im Laufe der Zeit erregte dieses ikonenhafte russische Volkslied das Interesse vieler Komponisten, wobei Mili Balakirews Bearbeitung vielleicht die berühmteste ist. Das Schweizer Exil während des Ersten Weltkriegs hatte in Strawinsky eine Nostalgie für seine verlorene Heimat hervorgerufen, was sich in einer Reihe von Vertonungen von Volkssagen zeigt, mit denen er in seiner Kindheit in Berührung gekommen war. Die Februarrevolution von 1917 war ihm noch sehr gegenwärtig, so dass seine Erinnerungen besonders plastisch waren. Angeblich fertigte der Komponist das Arrangement der Wolga-Melodie als Gefallen für Sergei Djagilew an. Der Impresario der Ballets Russes benötigte ein neues Werk, um die russische Nationalhymne, „Gott, schütze den Zaren“, die traditionsgemäß vor den Aufführungen gespielt wurde, zu ersetzen. Allerdings kam die Bitte um eine neue Hymne tatsächlich direkt von dem neuerlich eingesetzten russischen Parlament. Strawinskys Manuskript verrät, dass er das Stück ursprünglich als Hymne à la nouvelle Russie bezeichnet hatte. Der Komponist orchestrierte das berühmte Lied buchstäblich über Nacht und diktierte die Stimmen seinem Freund Ernest Ansermet, der gehorsam jeden Ton notierte. Direkt unter die Orchestrierung fügte Strawinsky einen Klavierauszug des Werks hinzu. Direkt unter die Orchestrierung fügte Strawinsky einen Klavierauszug des Werks hinzu. Im Manuskript findet sich zusätzlich ein farbenprächtiges rotes Banner auf der Titelseite, das von Strawinskys Freund Picasso in Anerkennung der russischen Revolution entworfen worden war.

aus dem Begleittext von Charles M Joseph © 2013
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

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