In 1936, the English composer and writer Constant Lambert described Igor Markevitch as ‘the leading figure of the Franco-Russian school’. As a composer he had been commissioned by Diaghilev and performed by the likes of Alfred Cortot and Roger Désormière, but his posthumous reputation largely rests on his prowess as a conductor, a profession he took up in the 1930s after study with Pierre Monteux.
For this new album, pianist Igor Gehenot continues the adventure of his international quartet and adds the blowing of French saxophonist David El-Malek (Baptiste Trotignon). Between post-bop and contemporary music, “Cursiv” takes us deep into the heart of a sulphurous New York and on to the bare plains and fjords of Norway.
The last three symphonies remain for many listeners the ultimate expression of musical romanticism. Their gorgeous tunes, luscious orchestration, and huge emotional range tempt many interpreters to extremes of musical excess– but not Igor Markevitch. These brilliantly played, exceptionally precise performances let the hysteria speak for itself, while focusing on the music's architectural strength. The results are uncommonly exciting, supple, and above all sensitive to the music's many beauties. Having withstood the test of time, and at two discs for the price of one, this might very well be a first choice for newcomers and collectors alike. Excellent recorded sound too.
Works of Igor Stravinsky is a massive set: 22 CDs of performances of Rite of Spring, Petrouschka, L'Histoire du soldat, Symphony in E-Flat, The Rake's Progress and more under the direction of the composer, with additional performances by his disciple Robert Craft under Stravinsky's supervision, and a disc (the Sympony in E-Flat disc, actually) that includes recordings of rehearsals and Stravinsky discussing his own music.
Prince Igor is an epic opera,with its wonderful crowd scenes and intimate love music and although it can at times appear more a patchwork of scenes than a coherent work it does contain wonderful music which moves along with great vigour and excitement. This version with mainly Bulgarian singers is most enjoyable with Tchakarov bringing out the dramatic tension,vivid melody and colour with finesse and passion,the orchestra responding admirably to all the nuances in the score,the chorus too so important in this work give an outstanding performance in the Polovtsian music.