16 June 2009

Disc 11 Miniature Masterpieces

This disk begins with one of the shortest pieces in the set, the Greetings Prelude, just 49 seconds long. I'm typing this update on 17 June, which is an astonishing co-incidence as the piece is a variation of 'Happy Birthday to You', and today is the anniversary of IS's birth. (I knew this because Google has a commemorative logo.) I would imagine the piece has been played a few times on the radio today. This recording was made by Columbia SO in 1963

The Concerto in E-flat "Dumbarton Oaks" is on this disc, in a recording from 1954. This has always struck me as one of the most amicable works of IS. It's firmly in the neo-classical mode. Wikipedia has a decent article. You could ask why Stravinsky and Prokofiev (1st Symphony) shared this clear affection for the classical approach, when both were major figures in modernism. Stravinsky's huge and enduring influence was Tchaikovsky, but it's hard to hear any of him in this. (Not so long ago, though, Radio 3 ran a week of playing only Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky and it was so obvious that every time Stravinsky did something different, there was a precedent in Tchaikovsky.)

Anyway, this was composed in 1937-38.