Gustavo Gimeno

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring; Funeral Song; Game of Cards; Concerto in D "Basel"; Agon

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Gustavo Gimeno's 2018 box set from Pentatone provides an excellent survey of the career of Igor Stravinsky, covering both famous and comparatively obscure works from his three main periods. The earliest composition here, Funeral Song, was composed in 1908 on the death of Stravinsky's teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, but played once and only rediscovered in 2015. While its style is almost unrecognizable as Stravinsky's, mixing Russian brooding with murky Wagnerian harmonies, it was nonetheless an important stepping stone to his first great ballet, L'Oiseau de feu, composed two years later. This set doesn't include that work or its immediate successor, Petrushka, but Le Sacre du printemps is decidedly the most important and revolutionary of the three early ballets, and arguably receives the most impressive performance in this set, played with extraordinary vehemence by the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. On the second disc, Jeu de cartes and the Concerto in D, "Basel," adequately represent Stravinsky's neoclassical period, while the ballet Agon is possibly Stravinsky's most attractive serial work, and all three performances are finely detailed and crisply played. Pentatone's multichannel recording brings out the spatial relationships between the parts and captures background details that are sometimes obscured, such as the percussion in the violent Glorification de l'élue in Le Sacre. This is a terrific set to give to any newcomer to Stravinsky, and every connoisseur of his music will appreciate its exceptional value.

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