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Igor Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress

By Blanche Thebom

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By Blanche Thebom, Eugene Conley, Hilde Guden, Mack Harrell, Martha Lipton, Norman Scolt, and The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. By Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971). Classical. CD. Naxos #DAT90003. Published by Naxos (NX.DAT90003).

Item Number: NX.DAT90003

Conducted by Fritz Reiner.

That a simple visit to an exhibition of English art could have impelled Stravinsky to compose his last neoclassical masterpiece is really only slightly credible. It is true that the ultra-renowned series of engravings by William Hogarth effectively permits the conception of a 'plot' of a lyric work, but only Stravinsky's fervid fantasy could have allowed this to become a reality. But, as already stated, all this would not have been sufficient: in fact the composer himself had the firm intention of composing a lyric opera and (already from 1947 after having finished Orpheus) he had been seeking on ideal subject which would allow him to try hand in a new work, in the neoclassical style, which might be at one and the same time the apotheosis and the definitive conclusion of one of his compositional styles. His Hollywood neighbor, the celebrated writer Aldous Huxley, seeing the Stravinskian enthusiasm for the eighteenth century engravings, suggested that he entrust the libretto of the book to a really special writer: Wystan Hugh Auden. The result speaks for itself. This release features a live recording of the opera which took place at the Metropolitan Opera House of New York on February 14, 1953.

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