An exponent of Stravinsky's work and musical thought for decades -- indeed, his assistant and amanuensis -- Robert Craft is uniquely qualified to present this composer's works for Koch International. While other conductors may be preferred for their more polished interpretations of one piece or another, few can claim Craft's consistency and thorough comprehension of Stravinsky's corpus. If his performances are not always the most brilliant, their integrity and clarity compensate. Volume VII of the series presents four works that come from distinct periods in Stravinsky's career, and each is handled competently and with an understanding of its character and place in the chronology. Oedipus Rex, an opera-oratorio in two acts, typifies the detachment and austerity of Stravinsky's early neo-Classical approach, yet Craft imbues the work with liveliness and vigor, emphasizing its dramatic aspect. Babel, a brief work from Stravinsky's late neo-Classical period, is fluid and vivid in its tone-painting. A Sermon, a Narrative & a Prayer is a serial work of rigorous discipline, but its transparency and concentrated use of color make it approachable. Zvezdoliki is the earliest piece on the disc, composed between Petrushka and Le Sacre du Printemps, and Stravinsky's use of polytonality between the chorus and orchestra is arresting and memorable.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Oedipus Rex, opera-oratorio in 2 acts|
|A Sermon, a Narrative & a Prayer, cantata for 2 vocal soloists, reciter, chorus & orchestra|