Igor Stravinsky

Petrushka, movements (3) for piano

    Description by Blair Johnston

    It was mostly at the urging of then 34 year old pianist Arthur Rubinstein (the "urging" was really an offer of 5000 francs -- serious money for a composer reeling from the effects of the First World War) that, in 1921, Igor Stravinsky set about converting three portions of his already famous ballet Petrushka into a three-movement vehicle for solo piano. And yet, despite the lavish attention to orchestral detail that fills every measure of the ballet, it is not at all difficult to imagine the work in pianistic terms: Stravinsky's first sketches of Petrushka (from the summer of 1910) took the form of a concerto for piano and orchestra, and it was only at the urging of impresario Diaghilev that he rerouted his energies into a theatrical vein and produced the work that now is so well-known. Strangely enough, Rubinstein never recorded these Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka, though accounts of his many live performances of the piece testify to his close sympathy with the music.

    The three numbers that Stravinsky selected to arrange are, in the order they appear, the "Russian Dance" from the end of the first tableau, "Petrushka's Cell" from the second tableau, and, incorporating almost all of the fourth tableau (including the ending published in the 1947 revision of the ballet), "The Shrove-tide Fair." Everywhere the pianism is brilliantly choreographed (the work is certainly tremendously difficult to bring off, but always packs a wallop when done well), and the transcription to the keyboard is carried out with a finesse not usually encountered in a composer's translation of his own music (usually a certain amount of distance, psychologically speaking, is helpful in successfully carrying out such a translation; hence Franz Liszt's many spectacular piano transcriptions of music utterly foreign to his own compositional style): here is no mere "piano reduction," but rather a full-blown, independent concert work in which the electric, vaguely symmetrical sixteenth-note figurations and sharp orchestral articulations of the "Russian Dance" are reforged into a demanding test of finger dexterity (the "Russian Dance," in its original orchestral form, is actually reinforced by a dramatic, nonstop use of the piano) and, later on, the famous oscillating contrary thirds of strings and woodwinds that open "The Shrove-tide Fair" (clearly originally conceived of at the piano) are translated into a shimmering and wholly idiomatic keyboard figuration that is almost -- but not quite -- the equal of its orchestral counterpart.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Russian dance
    2. In Petrushka's cell
    3. The shrove-tide fair

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 IBA [Idil Biret Archives] / Naxos 8501504
    2016 Sony Classical 88875170032
    2016 Decca
    2016 Oehms Classics OC 1863
    2016 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4796018
    2015 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2015 Genuin GEN 15376
    2015 Draft FOTW 001
    2015 RCA Red Seal / Sony Classical 88875127202
    2015 Melodiya MELCD 1002292
    2015 New Focus FCR 159
    2015 DG Deutsche Grammophon B002398272
    2014 Genuin GEN 14295
    2013 Orchid Classics ORC 100028
    2013 Delos 3454
    2013 Entertainment Group 6112
    2013 Susan Merdinger
    2013 Harmonia Mundi HMU 907605
    2012 Piano Classics PCL 0044
    2012 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 048
    2012 Decca / Mercury Living Presence 001653302
    2012 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4779529
    2012 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Paladino Music PMR 0031
    2011 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4779918
    2011 RCA Red Seal 886919369120
    2011 BIS 1810
    2011 ICA Classics ICAC5020
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Naxos 8572573
    2010 Avi-Music / CAvi-music 8553174
    2010 Danacord 691696
    2010 IBA [Idil Biret Archives] 8571274
    2010 Fab Four 232920
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Triton 00037
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon 14108
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2008 EMI Classics 351825
    2008 Deutsche Gram. Ger. / DG Deutsche Grammophon 4776656
    2008 Ars Produktion 38444
    2008 Medici Arts 3078048
    2008 Brilliant 93761
    2008 Rca Red Seal 730110
    2007 Sony Classical Essential Classics 721081
    2007 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2007 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2007 Apex
    2006 Arte Nova 769690
    2006 Berlin Classics 0013662
    2006 DG Deutsche Grammophon 000764972
    2006 DG Deutsche Grammophon 000721802
    2006 RCA 78861
    2006 Albany Music Distribution 872
    2006 Edel Records 2822
    2005 MSR Classics 1107
    2005 Rca Red Seal 65389
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 86073
    2004 Supraphon 37782
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 585837-2
    2004 Ongaku 24111
    2004 Phoenix USA 157
    2004 ABC Classics 4761601
    2003 DG Deutsche Grammophon 471 360-2GPE
    2003 Aura Classics 0143
    2002 DG Deutsche Grammophon 471350
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 575202
    2001 Cypres 9612
    2001 Accord / Musidisc 461946
    2001 Vox Box 3601
    2000 Berlin Classics 0032112
    2000 Amphion 125
    2000 Naxos 553871
    1999 Philips 456988
    1999 Orfeo 523991
    1999 Philips 456 796-2PM2
    1999 Philips 462232
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Pro Piano 224523
    1999 DG Deutsche Grammophon 447398
    1999 Masterpiece 7203
    1999 Nimbus 1748
    1998 Encore Performa / Encore Performance Recordings 9816
    1998 Melodiya 52959
    1998 Philips 456937
    1998 Dante 9329
    1997 VAI Audio VAIA1146
    1997 Calliope 9228
    1997 Dorian 99117
    1997 Nimbus 5519
    1996 Dorian 98103
    1995 Pearl GEMMCD9156
    1995 Mercury 434359
    1995 Centaur Records 2188
    1995 DG Deutsche Grammophon 447431
    1994 Nonesuch 79343
    1994 BIS 188
    1994 BIS 276
    1994 Bridge 9051
    1993 Dorian 90117
    1992 Chandos 8733
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 67276
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 46481
    Divox 25219
    Labor Records
    MusicMasters 67138
    Nimbus 5045
    Panton Records 811233
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 435616
    Cypres 9612-8
    Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 020
    Ermitage 133
    Panton Records 0486
    Pro-Arte Records 933
    Rca Red Seal 38494-95
    Mk 417072