Igor Stravinsky's 1910 ballet The Firebird is best known in its full orchestral version, and it is also quite familiar in the concert suites he extracted from it. Virtually unknown is the piano reduction Stravinsky made for rehearsal purposes. Even though there have been attempts to shape some of the ballet into a suite for solo piano, usually drawing on the music from the Danse infernale, the Berceuse, and the Finale, the full work has rarely been played on piano. Lydia Jardon performs the original reduction on this CD from Ar Re-Se, in a slightly modified version that includes some material from the transcription by the composer's son, Soulima Stravinsky. It is a daunting mass of notes that demands extreme virtuosity and considerable courage to get through, and Jardon does her best to grapple with the material. The central problem that keeps this a utility version, rather than a viable recital showpiece, is the original orchestral conception, which practically defies translation into any other medium. The piano offers all the actual notes, but it is a poor substitute for the lush textures, distinctive sonorities, and magical effects Stravinsky composed for the orchestra. Jardon clearly struggles to get all the notes under her fingers, and her energy seems partly spent on the physical strain of making it hold together as music. A similar effort is involved in playing Stravinsky's piano score of The Song of the Nightingale, though Jardon has better luck in this transcription because it seems more idiomatically tailored to the keyboard. From a historical perspective, this disc is certainly a worthwhile appraisal of these reductions as a practical necessity, though most listeners will return to the original orchestral scores for a true appreciation of Stravinsky's genius.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Tableau 1. Arrival of Kashchei the immortal, his dialogue with Prince Ivan. Intercession of the princesses
Tableau 2. Disappearance of the palace and dissolution of Kashchei's, animation of the enchantments petrified warriors. General rejoicing
|The Song of the Nightingale|