Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Haven't Felt This Way Since "Funky Town"! (VIII)

I don't normally do this, but over dinner my partner informed me that today is the 126th birthday of a certain Igor Stravinsky, and I felt compelled to share this fact. I've been a huge admirer of his work for many years now, but even though there are many pieces in his collected works that leave me silent in awestruck admiration, one in particular stands out for me: Agon, a late work in which Stravinsky began to utilise the twelve-tone method of composing pioneered by the Viennese School in the first half of the 20th Century. Here's a version of it which I'm not familiar with (and which takes the tempo a bit faster than the Stravinsky-approved version I've heard) (and also infuriates by not crediting who's performing). I know a lot of the stuff I recommend might be a little too extreme (or outre) for many listeners, but I cannot recommend Stravinsky's work highly enough; his complete works, including performances either with the man himself conducting or with others under his direct supervision, is available here or, I'm sure, elsewhere if you don't do the whole Amazon thing (and if you've never heard The Rite of Spring, do nothing else (including eating or sleeping) until you've obtained a copy! My partner once saw it performed live by the Berlin Philharmonic, and she said that the sheer force of the sound made her chair rattle...) Anyway, raise a glass to Igor Fedorovitch, and here's Agon. Enjoy!

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