Saturday, August 5, 2017

Igor Stravinsky - Oedipus Rex; Les Noces (Valery Gergiev)


Information

Composer: Igor Stravinsky
  • (01-04) Les noces
  • (05-10) Oedipus rex

Mlada Khudoley, soprano (01-04)
Olga Savova, mezzo soprano (01-04)
Alexander Timchenko, tenor (01-04)
Andrei Serov, bass (01-04)
Alexander Mogilevsky, Svetlana Smolina, Yulia Zaichkina & Maxim Mogilevsky, pianos (01-04)

Gérard Depardieu, narrator (05-10)
Sergei Semishkur, Oedipus (05-10)
Ekaterina Semenchuk, Jocasta (05-10)
Evgeny Nikitin, Creon & messenger (05-10)
Mikhail Petrenko, Tiresias (05-10)
Alexander Timchenko, shepherd (05-10)

Mariinsky Theater Orchestra
Mariinsky Theater Chorus
Valery Gergiev, conductor

Date: 2010
Label: Mariinsky
https://mariinskylabel.com/products/stravinsky-oedipus-rex-les-noces

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Review

Full-blooded performances from Valery Gergiev and his Russian orchestra

Les noces is the most emphatically Russian of Stravinsky’s early masterpieces, rooted in the soil and the customs of peasant weddings, and at least two recordings have put traditional Russian folksongs alongside. When Stravinsky’s 1962 recording of Les noces was made in the USA he said: “I wonder if Les noces can ever completely reveal itself to a non-Russian.” If that seems discouraging, then here is the real thing with the Mariinsky chorus and orchestra under Gergiev, recorded on their own label in the concert hall of the Mariinsky Theatre.

Right from the start, with soprano Mlada Khudoley’s incisive grace notes, there’s a rasping thrust that never lets up. Some of this is due to the Russian language as opposed to the smoother French text usually heard. Later on, the ecstatic frenzy is faster than Stravinsky or his markings but unfortunately there are times when the tenor and bass soloists get submerged.

By the time of Oedipus Rex (1927) Stravinsky was a European taking on Western music from Handel to Verdi with kleptomaniac gusto. Oedipus also became known in an American recording under Stravinsky. The 1963 release had an all-star cast of soloists and an English narrator; later, Craft’s performance, supervised by Stravinsky, had an American narrator; and now, with the Mariinsky team, we have Cocteau’s original French, rather eccentrically delivered with some odd emphases.

This time the Russians are singing Latin but their timbre brings something special to this monumental Greek drama with its seductive Italianate melodies outlining horrific events. Of the soloists (photos but no biographies in the trilingual booklet) Ekaterina Semenchuk (Jocasta) sounds plummy at first but she and Sergei Semishkur (Oedipus) bring electrifying intensity to the duet where they realise their guilt. Overall this is a double-bill of at times shattering impact.

-- Peter Dickinson, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****
The Guardian  ***** Five Stars (out of five)
AllMusic  AllMusic Rating: 10/10
ClassicsToday  ARTISTIC QUALITY: 7 / SOUND QUALITY: 9
https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Oedipus-Rex-Noces-Semishkur/dp/B003H2E3E2

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Igor Stravinsky (17 June [O.S. 5 June] 1882 – 6 April 1971) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century. He first achieved international fame with three ballets commissioned by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913). Stravinsky's compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. His output is typically divided into three general style periods: a Russian period, a neoclassical period, and a serial period.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igor_Stravinsky

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Valery Gergiev (born 2 May 1953) is a Russian conductor and opera company director. He studied at the Leningrad Conservatory from 1972 to 1977, with Ilya Musin as his principal conducting teacher. Gergiev was principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (1995-2008) and London Symphony Orchestra (2007-2015). He is currently general director and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre (since 1988), chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic (since 2015) and artistic director of the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valery_Gergiev
http://www.valery-gergiev.ru/en/

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