Ilan Volkov / BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Stravinsky: Orpheus; Jeu de cartes; Agon

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

Ilan Volkov's dynamic readings of Igor Stravinsky's ballets Jeu de cartes, Agon, and Orpheus push the music in unexpected and exciting directions, for these neo-Classical works -- with the serial Agon loosely described that way -- are often treated with expressive coolness and intellectual detachment, but almost never with this kind of pugnacity and edginess. Volkov conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at brisk tempos and sometimes urges it on to some truly brusque playing, particularly in the more savagely sarcastic moments of Jeu de cartes, but also in the sharply etched dances of Agon and in the nervously energetic middle sections of Orpheus. Whether such vigor suits listeners who like their Stravinsky served dry without any twists, it certainly shakes up these modern masterpieces and makes the music seem more spontaneous, volatile, and provocative. However, the faster Volkov goes, some of Stravinsky's trickier rhythms come perilously close to being played inaccurately, and one might well wonder how the fastest passages would synchronize with living dancers. Hyperion's sound is bold and bright, and the cutting edge of the orchestra's timbres, noticeably in the woodwinds, is brought to high relief in the mix.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Jeu de cartes (Card Game), ballet in "three deals" for orchestra
1
5:25
2
8:37
3
7:35
Agon, ballet for 12 dancers & orchestra
4
1:30
5
1:25
6
1:02
7
0:49
8
1:16
9
1:11
10
1:22
11
0:51
12
0:52
13
0:44
14
1:21
15
0:50
16
3:50
17
1:31
18
0:32
19
2:13
Orpheus, ballet in 3 scenes for orchestra
20
9:38
21
16:59
22
2:58
blue highlight denotes track pick