Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Classical WETA-FM, In Nation's Capital, Shocks Its Valentine's Day Audience By Programming Instrumental Version Of Igor Stravinsky's Pastorale (1907)

"Pastorale is a song without words written by Igor Stravinsky in 1907. Stravinsky composed the piece at his family's estate in Ustilug, Ukraine, while under the supervision of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and dedicated it to Rimsky-Korsakov's daughter Nadia.

The piece was originally scored for soprano and piano, but Stravinsky transcribed it several times over the years for various ensembles:

soprano, oboe, English horn, clarinet, and bassoon (1923);
violin and piano (1933);
violin, oboe, English horn, clarinet, and basoon (1933).

The two versions from 1933 are not strict transcriptions but lengthened versions lasting about two minutes longer than the original. The 1933 version for violin and piano was written for violinist Samuel Dushkin, who had premiered Stravinsky's Violin Concerto two years earlier. Dushkin and Stravinsky premiered the new version in 1933."



"Stravinsky’s settings of two short lyrics by Russian Symblist poet Konstantin Balmont are his first works to dispense with key signatures. Composed in Ustilug, Russia [sic], in 1911, immediately after Petrushka and before The Rite of Spring, they continue the exploration - in the latter part of “The Dove” - of bitonality begun in the former and anticipate the harmonic density in the Introduction of the latter. But for the most part the songs are extremely simple, and among the most graceful Stravinsky ever wrote.

Concertizing in Japan in the spring of 1959, Stravinsky told an interviewer:

I came into contact with Japan in the course of my work many years ago. In 1913, I composed a small work, which used three short Japanese poems for its texts. I was interested at the time in Japanese woodblock prints. What attracted me was that this was a two-dimensional art without any sense of solidity. I discover this sense of the two-dimensional in some Russian translations of poetry, and attempt to express this sense in my music.

The Three Japanese Lyrics are respectively dedicated to the composers Maurice Delage, Florent Scmitt, and Maurice Ravel. Delalge, who had visited Japan in the spring of 1912, kindled Stravinsky’s enthusiasm for its art."

From the notes by Robert Craft via soprano Susan Narucki's Website.


Header photo: Музей І.Стравінського (I. Stravinski's muzeum, Ustilug, Ukraine, Future European Union.)

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