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STRAVINSKY, I.: Histoire du Soldat Suite / Renard (Craft) (Stravinsky, Vol. 7)

Composer(s):Stravinsky, Igor
Period(s) 20th Century
Genre Classical Music
Category Chamber MusicInstrumentalOrchestralVocal
Catalogue 8.557505
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps
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This is a unique collection of mostly short works that Stravinsky re-worked in different arrangements to suit the occasion. Pastorale, transcribed here for a quartet of oboe, clarinet, English horn, and bassoon, is one of Stravinsky’s most popular pieces, as well as his own favourite among his pre-Firebird creations. The Soldier’s Tale, scored for only 7 players, is based on a Russian folk-tale of the soldier who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for a violin. Stravinsky’s comic masterpiece, Renard, also based on a Russian folk-tale, is heard here in an amended version of his own English translation. Scherzo à la Russe is the original, scored for the Paul Whiteman band of six saxophones, eight strings, harp, piano, assorted brass, woodwinds, and percussion.

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Review By Penguin Guide,January 2009

The Pastorale (in the composer’s arrangement for violin and woodwind) opens this collection with a gentle, wistful charm. Written originally as a vocal piece in 1908, it introduces Robert Craft’s collection of early works dating from 1911 to 1918, the exception being the brazen arrangement of the Scherzo á la Russe which Stravinsky re-orchestated for the Paul Whiteman Band in 1944. The most familiar work here is the Histoire du Soldat Suite, given an animated, boldly characterized performance, with splendid playing from the orchestral soloists. But Renard creates a similar dynamic instrumental character, with the vividly histrionic vocal participation (Stravinsky wrote the libretto himself) impressively well sung and exuberantly full

The Three Pieces for Clarinet are miniatures of sharp originality, the first lugubriously chalumeau, the second virtuosic, the third with unexpected jazzy syncopations; however, the following Pour Picasso is just a morsel. The two Belmont Songs are lyrical and beautiful, and the Three Japanese Lyrics are sinuously seductive, all exquisitely sung by Susan Narucki. These are provided with translations, but the four Pribaoutki are not. Here Catherine Ciesinski brings out their bold Russian folk derivation, with the composer’s scoring ever ear-tickling. The four Berceuses du chat are equally memorable, with stealthy clarinet colouring. The programme ends with the Song of the Volga Boatmen boisterously scored and played with enthusiasm by the Philharmonia Orchestra. All these performances offer first-class playing from a galaxy of artists and spirited, crisply detailed direction from Robert Craft, who also provides excellent notes. The recording cannot be faulted, except perhaps for a rather backward balance of the soloists in Renard.


Review By Malcolm Hayes,Classic FM,March 2007

Here is another of Naxos's budget-priced feasts of music by the 20th-century's ultimate composer - all of it buzzing with character, atmosphere and fun, and showing how Stravinsky responded to a lifetime's exile from his native Russia by sometimes becoming more Russian than ever. The major party pieces are the suite from the music-theatre masterwork The Soldier's Tale, and the over-the-top antics of Renard (a kind of farmyard-animal vaudeville show). Meanwhile, the smaller song-cycles are wonderful chips from the composer's bench, combining his trademark virtuoso brilliance with exquisite touch. The performances reflect this, with Susan Narucki's soprano sounding especially lovely.

Review By David Denton, Naxos,January 2007

As Naxos has progressed through Robert Craft's extensive survey of Igor Stravinsky's music, I have commented at length on his unique place as confidant and conducting assistant during the composer's later years in the United States. It gave a singular insight into his final thoughts, though Craft is anxious to stress that these are his own performances based on the experience of their years together. The present disc is a sweeping up exercise of shorter works and comes from previously released material on the Music Masters and Koch labels to which is added a recent recording of Renard. To detail the vast array of performers in such a compilation would make for an extremely lengthy heading, so I am contenting myself with the orchestras involved. I should point out



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