View Full Version : IGOR STRAVINSKY: L'Oiseau de Feu/The Firebird, Jeu de Cartes - Salonen - EAC-FLAC-LOG

11-29-2014, 11:48 AM
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The Firebird was Igor Stravinsky's first major success, the first of his ballets to be
premiered by Sergei Diaghilev's famous Ballets Russes. Its fantasy-like story tells of Prince
Ivan, who befriends the Firebird and later summons the magical creature to aid him in defeating
the evil magician Kastchei and his fiendish monsters.

Cast in two scenes and having 22 dance numbers, the ballet opens with the "Introduction,"
which is dominated by an ominous, searching ostinato, initially heard in the bass strings.
The mood remains dark and mysterious in the ensuing "Kastchei's Enchanted Garden," but
things brighten in the glittering instrumentation that depicts the appearance of the Firebird
and in the "Dance of the Firebird," where you can almost see the creature flit and flutter.
This music corresponds to the second movement in the 1919 Suite No. 2, the most popular
of the three the composer extracted from the ballet.

After the Firebird's capture, the music turns dark and fills with yearning as the creature
desperately pleads to Prince Ivan for its release, which he grants, thus gaining its favor.
The music in the next four numbers deals with the enchanted princesses and is light and
playful in the first two, reflective and sentimental in the latter pair.

"Daybreak" is vigorous and colorful, but conveys an ominous sense, a sense that
continues when the Prince enters Kastchei's palace. The next several numbers deal with
Kastchei and his retinue of monsters, and with the capture of the Prince. In these the
music becomes threatening and dark, but without ever losing its fantasy-like character.

The music depicting the Firebird's reappearance to save the Prince again features a
colorful, busy character. The dance of Kastchei's court and the famous Infernal dance
follow, the latter a grotesque, rhythmic piece that many listeners will recognize as
comprising the seventh movement of the Suite No. 2.

"The Lullaby" follows, featuring an exotic, lonely theme on bassoon. This section
serves as the source music for the eighth movement. The brief "Kastchei Awakens"
precedes the most famous music in the ballet -- "Kastchei's Death" -- which also
comprises the Suite No. 2's finale. It features a soaring, stately melody -- probably
the most familiar theme in any Stravinsky work -- that grows grander and louder
as it proceeds, crowning the ballet with an absolute sense of triumph.

Jeu de Cartes (The Card Game) is cleverly described as a ballet in three deals. Completed
in 1936 for the newly formed American Ballet, whose choreographer was the young
George Balanchine, the scenario deals with the game of poker, one of Stravinsky's
favorite card games. The main character is the deceitful Joker, who fashions himself
unbeatable, owing to his chameleonic ability to become any card. There are also
other cards -- Queens, Aces -- and several card players portrayed in the ballet.

In the first two deals, the all-confident Joker dominates the proceedings, even if he
does not always win. In the final deal, however, he is vanquished by a royal flush,
ending his menace. Though the music is generally light, it clearly has a satirical side
and the devious Joker is viewed by some to represent evil, perhaps the devil.
Because of the growing tensions in Europe and the rise of Nazism during the time
of its composition, many have also seen the ballet as a sort of allegory of the
developing strife.

Jeu de Cartes contains several allusions to the works of other composers, a not
atypical trait in much of Stravinsky's music. The second deal contains several
notable instances: the first variation is related to the opening of the second
movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 8, and the fourth variation recalls
Strauss' Die Fledermaus. In the Third Deal, Rossini's The Barber of Seville
Overture is practically quoted. There are more than a few additional snippets
from the music of other composers sprinkled throughout the score, including
that of Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Delibes, and even from Stravinsky himself (the
Violin Concerto, Mavra, and other works). But the main theme of the ballet,
heard at the outset of each movement, may be the most remarkable
appropriation since it appears to be a reworking or slightly veiled rendition
of the famous "Fate" motto from Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Near the
end of the ballet, in fact, it appears almost unaltered from its form in the
Beethoven symphony.

After the opening of the First Deal, the music becomes subdued and the
work's episodic nature becomes apparent as a variety of inventive
sequences and thematic ideas follow. Before the end of this deal the
music works into a near-frenzy, then subsides once more.

After the work's main theme is stated at the outset of the Second Deal,
the music retreats to a generally calm mood, then becomes more
animated as the series of variations progresses. The Third Deal features
the theme at the outset, after which the music never relaxes. A
Ravelian waltz and the Rossini quotation suggest fun and satire, but
also perhaps the deceptions of the Joker. Near the end, the "Fate"
motif appears on the horns, then the oboes. The music concludes
with the main theme asserting itself, but neither triumphantly nor

It should be noted that the quotations and allusions sound very
much like Stravinsky, never like a reworking of the source music
as the composer did in his ballet Pulcinella, fashioned from several
works of Pergolesi. Jeu de Cartes is very much in the tradition
of the composer's neo-Classical style, full of wit and brilliant

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Music Composed by
Igor Stravinsky

Played by
The Philharmonia Orchestra

Conducted by
Esa-Pekka Salonen

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"No one would guess from his baby face that Esa-Pekka Salonen is a hard-edged,
tough-guy modernist who got his start conducting works by Magnus Lindberg,
the enfant terrible of Finnish music. But it is true and his recording career is
proof. Nowhere in his discography is there a note of Beethoven or Brahms.
Even in so conservative a company as Sony, Salonen has become the resident
modernist with discs dedicated to Bartók, Debussy, and Mahler (that's Sony's
modernism). He has even amassed an amazing series of Stravinsky recordings
since his Sony debut in 1988.

Salonen started with Stravinsky's first masterpiece, The Firebird. Rather than
use Stravinsky's modest revision of the score, Salonen went back to the original
1910 version with its gargantuan orchestra of quadruple woodwinds, huge
brass section plus a seven-piece brass band on-stage, an enormous percussion
section that included bells, xylophone, celesta, and piano, plus three harps
and 64 strings. Not that all this late-Romantic armament blunts the blade of
Salonen's modernism. It only gives him more ammunition to aim at the
work's Russian fairy tale heart.

Stravinsky later commented on The Firebird that "belongs to the style of
its time." This is true as far as it goes. The use of diatonic folk-like melodies
for humans and chromaticism for the supernatural does come out of Rimsky-
Korsakov's late operas. But those are merely the work's point of origin. Under
the right hands -- and Salonen's are the right hands -- numbers like "Fairy
Carillon" and especially "Infernal Dance" become threats to musical
complacency. Even such pretty little sound toys as the "Round Dances"
and the "Lullaby" aren't exercises in late-Russian emotionality; in their
own quiet way, they subvert the conventions of Romanticism through
Stravinsky's nascent aesthetic of ironic stylization to distance the creator
and, thus, the audience, from the creation."
All Music

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Download Link - [Only registered and activated users can see links]!rQBmXBYS!TrjwkFltA9S9NPw6NdlHO490rjiwfcxUsn0JjF5 jCcU

Source: CBS Records CD, 1989 (my rip!)
Format: FLAC(RAR), DDD Stereo, Level: -5
File Size: 260 MB (incl. artwork, booklet, log & cue)

Enjoy! Don't share! Buy the origina! Please leave a "Like" or "Thank you" if you enjoyed this! :)

11-29-2014, 01:16 PM
Thank you for another great share, wimpel69! ;)

11-29-2014, 06:18 PM
Wow! Cool stuff! Thanks again for sharing!

11-29-2014, 06:25 PM
Thank you share!

11-29-2014, 09:41 PM

11-30-2014, 08:10 AM

11-30-2014, 09:47 AM
thank you!

11-30-2014, 05:15 PM
Thank you so much!