Steven Osborne / Ilan Volkov

Stravinsky: Complete Music for Piano & Orchestra

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The combination of piano and orchestra isn't a common one on Stravinsky programs, and none of the works here is among the most frequently heard Stravinsky works. The Concerto for piano & wind instruments of 1924 is probably the most familiar one. The neglect of these works ignores the role they played in Stravinsky's career: he performed the piano-and-winds concerto more than 50 times in the 1920s alone, and the Capriccio for piano & orchestra was composed as a direct response to the earlier work's success. The Concerto for piano & wind instruments falls nicely between the motoric, neoprimitive sound of Les Noces and the composer's later neo-classic sound, and its slow movement is one of the few genuinely lyrical things Stravinsky ever wrote. The Capriccio is a lighter work, with additive rhythms bursting out of the piano part as if spontaneously. Pianist Steven Osborne catches this spontaneous quality especially well, and he's aware of the arm's length but definite attraction Stravinsky showed toward American jazz in both pieces. He finds the composer's characteristic wit in the strict serialist Movements for piano & orchestra. These three works would have made a strong program by themselves here, and the only real objection is the superfluous presence of the Concerto in D for strings and two rare short works, which are not for piano and orchestra at all, and seem to have been included mostly to fluff up the minute count. For Stravinsky's underrated piano concerto music, however, this is a strong pick.

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