The Russian Stravinsky: Gergiev, Symphonies of Wind Instruments, Firebird

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Iceland volcano spared almost no international musical organization last month, including the New York Philharmonic, as this week’s broadcast illustrates.

The orchestra's ambitious three-week Stravinsky festival was supposed to open with the choral masterpiece Les Noces. But because of the flight restrictions prompted by the volcano The Mariinsky Theatre Chorus was unable to travel to New York to join the orchestra.

But that change hardly spoiled the evening. In place of Les Noces, the Philharmonic featured Jeu de Cartes (“Game of Cards”), a 21-minute score in a spare, Neoclassical style written for a Balanchine ballet first performed in New York in 1937. Stravinsky was an enthusiastic poker-player, and this score features three deals, each marked by the music that opens the ballet.

Also on the program are the beautifully austere Symphonies of Wind Instruments, written in 1920 and revised in 1947 and the always-dazzling Firebird, heard in its complete ballet version.

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