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Stravinsky conducts his "melodrame" Persephone - PACO061

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Stravinsky conducts his "melodrame" Persephone - PACO061-CD
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Vera Zorina, Narrator
Richard Robinson, Tenor
The Westminster Choir
director Dr. John Finley Williamson
New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Igor Stravinsky
Recorded in 1957

XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, May 2011
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Igor Stravinsky

Total duration: 53:33
©2011 Pristine Audio.


Stravinsky's definitive recording of his melodrama Perséphone

Bizarrely overlooked 1930s masterpiece in superb 1957 New York recording


  • STRAVINSKY Perséphone [notes]
    Recorded 14 January 1957 Columbia 30th Street Studios New York City
    Transfer from Columbia Masterworks LP ML 5196

    Vera Zorina
    Richard Robinson
    The Westminster Choir
    Dr. John Finley Williamson
    New York Philharmonic Orchestra
    Igor Stravinsky

Special thanks to John Phillips for providing source material


Review (excerpt from 1992 recording of Perséphone):

"A humanist Rite of Spring" was Elliott Carter's description of Perséphone. Classical Greece replaces pagan Russia and there is, in this "melodrama" bursting at the seams with symbolism, even a detectable Christian message: André Gide's poem, derived from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (Earth Mother), has the Goddess Perséphone (her daughter) accepting self-sacrifice to bring love and pity to those in the Underworld. And in the final section, "Perséphone reborn", Stravinsky's setting of the choral invocation for Perséphone's (Spring's) return is, in Robert Craft's words, "a veritable Russian Easter".

This new Perséphone should hopefully mark a rebirth in the work's fortunes. Given its immediately appealing lyricism and lucid textures, it is extraordinary to report that Nagano's is the first recording since the composer's own...

J.S., from The Gramophone, June 1992 (read full article here)


Notes on the recordings:

This transfer of Stravinsky's far too rarely-heard Perséphone was suggested to me by John Phillips, who also supplied the source recording, a copy of the original Columbia Masterworks LP in near mint condition. The original recording was exceptionally well made, though one can only curse Columbia for their non-adoption of stereo at this stage in the 1950s! In carrying out the XR remastering of the recording I compared it sonically to a more recent recording of the work by Kent Nagano and the London Symphony Orchestra (as referenced in the review above).

The two shared a very close average frequency response curve, though the latter did highlight a slight thinness in the voices and suggest an adjustment which brings out greater richness in the voice of the tenor, Richard Robinson. This aside, and with a reduction in the tape hiss present on the original LP, this transfer is exceptionally faithful to the original. Unlike the LP, however, there is here no requirement to split the lengthy second section into two halves in order to meet the time limitations of the vinyl long playing record.

Andrew Rose




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PACO061 cover

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Cue sheet

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