STRAVINSKY: Selected Correspondence, Vol. II by Robert--Ed. Craft

STRAVINSKY: Selected Correspondence, Vol. II

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Again, as in the first volume (1982) of this three-volume selection, there's lots of Craft, lots of Stravinsky's correspondents, but relatively little of Stravinsky himself here. Again, too, humdrum material--trivial, routine, scholarly in the narrowest sense--far outweighs the few passages of strong personal, musical, or historical interest. A section of correspondence with Diaghilev (1911-28) is dominated by cables, telegrams, and short business communiquÉs; aside from a brief Stravinsky comment on their shared religion, the only bright spot comes in a footnote--with Craft quoting the private Balanchine on Diaghilev. Letters from conductor Pierre Monteux are a little richer: details on Rite of Spring rehearsals in 1913; years later, a quarrel--hinging, in part, on Stravinsky's distinction between ""performances"" and ""interpretations"" of his works. But, throughout, Stravinsky is a curt, un-forthcoming, business-oriented, or formally polite correspondent--offering just an occasional speck of personality in letters to Leon Bakst, M. D. Calvocoressi, Florent Schmitt, Edwin Evans, Alfredo Casella, Gerald Tyrwhitt, Manuel de Falla, Pierre Boulez, and others. And only in the correspondence with chum Nicolas Nabokov is there some candor and charm--expressing distaste for Russia, for the music-world, for Boulez, for his Rake's Progress collaborators. . . or recording first impressions of ""Aunt Britten and Uncle Pears."" Still, scholars will value Craft's separate sections on the composition history of The Nightingale, on the legal problems surrounding the various Firebird versions; as in Vol. I, there's a chaotic assortment of half-documentary appendices (chiefly musicological). There are even letters neither from nor to Stravinsky: some fairly informative 1950s missives (re modern music-making) from composer Ernst Krenek to Craft. As before, then: a bulky but unrevealing hodgepodge, with only a few scattered pages that reach beyond strictly academic interest.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1983
Publisher: Knopf