Octet for wind instruments (1922-23)
Sinfonia (Lento – Allegro moderato) 00:00
Tema con variazioni (Andantino) 04:02
Finale (Sempre quarter note = 116, Tempo giusto) 11:14
Orchestra della Radiotelevisione della Svizzera Italiana
Igor Stravinsky. conductor
Live recording: Lugano, April 28, 1955
Stravinsky’s Octet is scored for an unusual combination of woodwind and brass instruments: flute, clarinet in B♭ and A, two bassoons, trumpet in C, trumpet in A, tenor trombone, and bass trombone. Because of its dry wind sonorities, divertimento character, and open and self-conscious adoption of \"classical\" forms of the German tradition (sonata, variation, fugue), as well as the fact that the composer published an article asserting his formalist ideas about it shortly after the Octet's first performance, it has been generally regarded as the beginning of neoclassicism in Stravinsky's music. [...]
The opening Sinfonia is a comparatively rare example (despite his label of \"neoclassic composer\") of Stravinsky's use of sonata form. His employment of this form, along with the other style elements consciously borrowed from the past, is not out of a reverent desire to perpetuate them, but rather constitutes a defiant and satirical act of mockery. The opening Lento section functions like a classical introduction, presenting the background tonal structure that will also govern the main Allegro section.
In the Allegro, Stravinsky exploits the apparent contradiction of two formal balances: one created through the parallel restatement of themes, the other through the symmetrical arrangement of themes and events on different structural layers of the composition.
In 1922, when Stravinsky was composing the second, theme-and-variations movement, he confided in a letter to Ernest Ansermet that Mozart was for him what Ingres was to Picasso. The hybrid of rondo and variation form resembles the slow movement of Mozart's E♭ major Piano Concerto, K. 482, to which it has been compared. Variations 1, 3, and 6 are practically identical (all are labeled \"variation A\" in the score), and serve as introductions to the following variations 2, 4, and 7. Stravinsky referred to this recurring introduction as the \"ribbons of scales\" variation. The second, fourth, fifth, and seventh variations assume the characters of a march, a waltz, a cancan, and a solemn fugue, respectively. The fugato is almost uniformly written in 5/8 time. This seventh, final variation is particularly surprising. The theme here is scarcely recognizable, and does not seem promising as the subject for a fugue; the sound character of the variation, with its emphasis on slow-moving harmonic masses, is unearthly, and its plan is unconventional, with the subject occurring only four times.
The finale's material is based on a rhythm identified by Stravinsky in earlier works (such as The Firebird and The Rite of Spring) with the Russian circle-dance called a khorovod. This repeating, three-note syncopated rhythm with proportions 3:3:2 is especially evident in the accompanying chords at the end, but all the preceding material in the movement is built on it or contains it. The overall formal design may be represented as A-B-A'-C-A''-D-D', where the refrain material in the A sections occurs one time fewer in each successive repetition: three times, then two times, and finally just once. In this process, the khorovod-like element becomes progressively less evident in the refrain, whereas in the intervening couplets it increases in clarity, from a disguised augmentation in the solo trumpet in section B, to a flute solo built on the original rhythmic shape in C, to the chordal accompaniment in D. The conception of a round dance is transformed here into an instrumental rondo, with a main theme resembling a baroque fugue subject. [...]Еще Igor Stravinsky