BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Thierry Fischer

Stravinsky: Petrushka

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Because Igor Stravinsky's Petrushka usually runs almost 35 minutes in duration, it either needs to be paired with a work of comparable length or presented with several short filler pieces to give reasonable value to a CD. In the case of this recording by Thierry Fischer and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the disc is filled out with three atmospheric pieces by Anatol Lyadov -- Baba-Yaga, Enchanted Lake, and Kikimora -- which only add a little over 20 minutes to this rather brief package. Still, there are affinities between Liadov's colorful, impressionistic music and Stravinsky's brilliant ballet, not least the strong influence of both composers' orchestration teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Lyadov, an older contemporary of Stravinsky, was the composer Sergei Diaghilev had originally sought to compose music for the ballet L'oiseau de feu, before having to settle on the as-yet untried Stravinsky. Furthermore, Lyadov was practiced at composing music on fairy tale themes, so his music is a sometimes suitable match in style and content with Stravinsky's magical depiction of the folk tale of Petrushka. Furthermore, Lyadov's selections have comparatively few recordings, so grouping these tone poems with Stravinsky's famous work gives them much needed exposure. The performances on this 2010 Signum Classics release are accurate and expressive, if a little restrained, and the audio is exceptional in its wide range of timbres, details, and dynamics.

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