For this 2016 release on the London Philharmonic Orchestra's own label, Vladimir Jurowski leads the orchestra in three works by Igor Stravinsky: the 1911 version of the ballet Petrushka; the 1920 version of the Symphonies of Wind Instruments; and the 1947 ballet Orpheus. Style was a constant source of inspiration and innovation for Stravinsky, and even though his works are roughly divided into three broad categories -- early Russian ballets, neoclassical works in all genres, and the serialist pieces of his old age -- there are various stylistic differences within those groupings that show his constantly developing aesthetics. This album highlights some of the changes Stravinsky embraced as he passed through his involvement as a composer with Sergei Diaghilev's Ballet Russe, for whom he wrote Petrushka, as well as L'Oiseau de feu and Le Sacre du printemps; the death of Claude Debussy, to whose memory Stravinsky dedicated the Symphonies of Wind Instruments; and his work with choreographer George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet, the recipients of Orpheus. Not only do these varied pieces show the inventiveness of their composer, but the London Philharmonic demonstrates great flexibility and versatility in playing this unusual program, which requires big adjustments in the ensemble's sound and execution. Jurowski draws out the right sonorities and shadings in these exciting live performances, and delivers a thought-provoking program that goes well beyond the bare outlines of Stravinsky's complicated development.
Stravinsky: Petrushka; Symphonies of Wind Instruments; Orpheus Review
by Blair Sanderson