Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite; Apollon musagète; Concerto in D for string orchestra

Reviewed on Wed 31 Aug, 2016

Superlatively accurate, confident playing, full of expressiveness and vitality, and well directed by a conductor who has thought out every detail of tempo and balance quite expertly.

This new disc of three neoclassical masterpieces includes some of the finest small-orchestra sound I’ve heard on disc in several years – superlatively accurate, confident playing, full of expressiveness and vitality, and well directed by a conductor who has thought out every detail of tempo and balance quite expertly. The strings, which are featured in the last two works, are especially fearless and clear. The Pulcinella Suite includes 11 of the 18 numbers in the original ballet; the music itself is Stravinsky’s own inspired amplifications of 18th–century Italian minor masters, with wonderfully inventive orchestration. Apollo, as the second ballet is more generally known in English, is smooth, even austere, but the music is irresistible. The Concerto in D has some polychordal harmony similar to that of the Symphony in Three Movements, composed at about the same time. There is very little of Stravinsky’s explosive Diaghilev sound in these grateful, melodious works, but they radiate his genius throughout.
–Mark DeVoto