Stravinsky: Symphony Of Psalms, Etc / Robert Craft, Et Al

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Robert Craft's authority as a Stravinsky conductor is unquestionable, and it's good to see his Koch recordings reappearing with important individual items from his earlier Musicmasters series. All were very well engineered and are certainly worth hearing. Between the two series I don't know if he has done everything, but he's pretty close, and there are some duplications. For example, this recording of Symphony of Psalms comes from the Koch sessions. It is very beautifully played, though not quite ideally sung by a chorus that sounds a bit small for the work (as I noted on its original issue). Craft's previous recording was a bit quicker overall, particularly in the last movement, but this one is actually closer to the tempos in Stravinsky's own stereo version.

And this, in a nutshell, is the point: when it comes to accuracy of execution instrumentally, Craft is unassailable. Vocally, it's more a question of taste and opportunity. For example, in the Cantata nobody beats tenor Jan Kobow's performance on Harmonia Mundi, a disc that also contains arguably the best-sung version of the Mass. Ancerl also offers superb interpretations of these two works, plus Symphony of Psalms, all on Supraphon. In the final analysis, it's nice to have such a wealth of choice, particularly in works once thought to be forbidding, such as the Cantata. The Three Russian Sacred Choruses are very minor pieces, as is Babel, Stravinsky's contribution to Nathaniel Shilkret's 1943 Genesis Suite (available on EMI). Craft is incorrect, by the way, in claiming in his notes that Babel was the suite's concluding section: it was The Covenant, by Ernest Toch. [11/3/2006]
--David Hurwitz,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8557504

  • UPC: 747313250424

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Igor Stravinsky

  • Conductor: Robert Craft

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: 20th Century Classics Ensemble, Gregg Smith Singers, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Philharmonia London, Philharmonia Orchestra, Simon Joly Chorus

  • Performer: Bart Feller, David Evitts, David Wilson-Johnson, Fred Sherry, Jon Humphrey, Katherine Ciesinski, Mary Ann Hart, Melanie Feld, Michael Parloff, Stephen Taylor, Thomas Bogdan