2016_cover_icsm006-copyI. Stravinsky, Pétrouchka, Le Sacre du printemps (original piano four hands versions by the composer)




Fiammetta Tarli & Ivo Varbanov, piano four hands


The piano was fundamental to the modus operandi of Igor Stravinsky as a composer, not least when he was writing orchestral scores.  Touching the keys gave him immediate contact with sound which he considered to be a vital part of the creative process.  This tactile element provided him with an opportunity to feel sonorities and harmonies in addition to hearing them and the subtleties of the instrument offered the possibility of fresh revelations at every repositioning of his fingers.  As Stravinsky’s works for orchestra began life at the keyboard in this deft, exploratory way, it is not by chance that several of them translate back into piano music with conspicuous success.

The celebrated Russian ballet scores commissioned by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev from the young Stravinsky are outstanding orchestral works in their own right.  They constitute one of the highpoints in the great era of artistic innovation immediately preceding the First World War.

With the exception of The Rite of Spring, these ballet scores contain a significant part for the piano.  In the case of Petrushka, not only does the instrument bring lustre and coruscation to the orchestral palette, it is also entrusted with an important concertante role.  Although the Rite does not feature a piano in its considerable orchestral forces, the score’s often percussive effects work remarkably well on the keyboard from the stamping chords which initiate the ‘Dances of the Young Girls’ to the almost tangible, steely textures of the concluding ‘Dance of the Earth’.