Stravinsky on YouTube

Here are a couple of nice performance videos of Stravinsky works. I’ve tried to keep away from the “household names” (you know, The Firebird, Le Sacre, Petrouchka — each of which has many entries) in favor of stuff that’s less frequently heard.

Symphonies of Wind Instruments was written in the late teens (of the 20th century) in memoriam to Claude Debussy. “Symphonies” here doesn’t mean “more than one symphony,” but more like “different combinations of sounds.” Musically it features some true characteristics of Stravinsky’s style at the time, polychords, obsessive development of four- or five-note motifs, and a kind of cut-and-paste compositional method, one that has little in the way of transition but instead lots of abrupt changes.

The chorale starting around the 8:00 minute mark is very moving. The Netherlands Wind Ensemble plays:

In Memoriam Dylan Thomas was one of his first serial works. Rarely performed because of its unusual instrumentation, the central aria is a setting of Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.”

From the early 1950s “The Rakes Progress,” Dawn Upshaw is wonderful in this aria:

If you want more from where that came from, here’s a duet from the same:

Last, the “Fanfare for a New Theater.” George Balanchine commissioned this as a quick starter for the opening of the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. Only a half-minute long, for two trumpets, it’s a good example of Stravinsky’s handling of tone rows. I played this on my senior recital in college.

Tom McGee has been building web sites since 1995, and blogging here since 2006. Currently a senior developer at Seton Hall University, he's also a freelance web programmer and musician. Contact him if you have the need for a blog, web site, redesign or custom programming!

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