CHORAL WRITING IN SELECTED SACRED WORKS OF IGOR STRAVINSKY: A CONDUCTOR'S GUIDE

Derek Beck
1982
This 'guide' pursues two aims: to provide a model for the exhaustive score preparation needed by any choir—trainer, professional or amateur and to put Stravinsky's choral canon into historical and critical perspective. A twofold analysis includes technical details of the works and an assessment of their aesthetic qualities from both the audiences and the choral singer's standpoints. The technical analysis contains a) the conductor's survey of scores under the headings of form, choral textures,
more » ... , choral textures, melody, rhythm, harmony and instrumental accompaniments b) advice on rehearsal and concert procedures c) stylistic recommendations gleaned from the composer's own writings and recordings (listed in an annotated discography) Additionally, a brief history, an identification of texts used (with translations of less familiar Latin verses), details of instrumentation and some contemporary judgements by professional critics are provided for each work. The aesthetic analysis covers a) the quantity and quality of the sacred choral works in relation to the rest of Stravinsky's output and that of major contemporaries b) their relationship to sacred choral music in Stra­vinsky's Russian past c) the degree to which they embody the composer's cultural and religious tenets. The composer's personal religious philosophy and his idiosyn­cratic views on word-setting are quoted from many sources (chiefly the published 'conversations' with his assistant Robert Craft) together with the composer-conductor's ideas concerning perfor­mance practice. Stravinsky is an important composer for his longevity, eclecticism, variety of compositional media and strength of personal artistic and spiritual principles. Nearly one quarter of his original compositions employs massed voices yet, with few exceptions, it remains seldom heard in live or recorded perfor­mances. This is explained in terms of executant difficulties and also aesthetic estrangement from performers and audiences alike. Such arguments underlie the dual aims of the thesis, both directed princ [...]
doi:10.21954/ou.ro.0000f7d5 fatcat:6m2vrr5s2fgt3iybwklzkqb3ra