Dancing at the Brink of the Abyss

 

1917 was a year of turbulence – both artistically and politically. It was the penultimate year of World War One, the year of the Russian Revolution, and a year that saw artistic and cultural changes take place.  This compilation explores the music inspired by the turbulent times at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Each work in this 2-CD set tells part of the story of this pivotal year.

The music history of the year 1917 cannot be separated from the dramatic events of the Great War, then in its third year. Yet many of the composers in our edition were only indirectly affected by it. Gustav Holst, for example, though two years younger than Vaughan Williams, likewise volunteered for war duty, only to be turned away as unfit for service. That he began The Planets, his orchestral suite of 1914–1916, with “Mars, the Bringer of War” (although by rights he should have begun with Mercury, the planet nearest the sun) reveals just how deeply he was affected by the terrors of the age. Even “Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age” sounds as sombre as a funeral dirge, a memento mori in the shadow of war.


Tracklisting

    1. CD 1
      1. Ottorino Respighi (1879 - 1936)
        Fountains of Rome, P. 106
        1. 1.
          The Fountain of Trevi (La fontana di Trevi al meriggio)
          3:47
          New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Giuseppe Sinopoli
      2. Béla Bartók (1881 - 1945)
        The Wooden Prince, BB 74, Op.13 (Sz. 60)
        1. 2.
          4th Dance: Dance of the Princess with the Wooden Doll
          5:24
          Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Boulez
      3. Manuel de Falla (1876 - 1946)
        El sombrero de tres picos
        1. Pt. 1
          1. 3.
            Dance of the miller's wife
            7:56
            Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Lorin Maazel
      4. Gustav Holst (1874 - 1934)
        The Planets, Op.32
        1. 4.
          5. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
          7:44
          Boston Symphony Orchestra, William Steinberg
      5. Denis Browne
      6. 5.
        To Gratiana Dancing and Singing
        3:49
        Ian Bostridge, Julius Drake
      7. Charles Edward Ives (1874 - 1954)
        Three Songs Of The War
        1. 6.
          1. In Flanders Fields
          2:23
      8. Hanns Eisler (1898 - 1962)
        The Hollywood Songbook (1943)
        1. 7.
          Panzerschlacht
          0:48
        2. 8.
          Die letzte Elegie
          1:18
        3. 9.
          Die Heimkehr
          1:32
          Anna Prohaska, Eric Schneider
      9. Frank Bridge (1879 - 1941)
        Sonata For Cello And Piano
        1. 10.
          2. Allegro ma non troppo - Molto allegro e agitato
          12:50
          Mstislav Rostropovich, Benjamin Britten
      10. Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
      11. 11.
        Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon
        2:11
        Philippe Cassard
      12. Maurice Ravel (1875 - 1937)
        Le Tombeau de Couperin, M.68
        1. Piano version
          1. 12.
            1. Prélude
            2:59
          2. 13.
            2. Fugue
            3:17
          3. 14.
            3. Forlane
            4:50
          4. 15.
            4. Rigaudon
            2:33
          5. 16.
            5. Menuet
            3:59
          6. 17.
            6. Toccata
            3:56
            Monique Haas
      13. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958)
        Symphony No.3 - "Pastoral"
        1. 18.
          2. Lento moderato
          8:55
          London Philharmonic Orchestra, Roger Norrington
    Playing Time 01:20:11
    1. CD 2
      1. Erik Satie (1866 - 1925), Jean Cocteau (1889 - 1963)
      2. 1.
        Parade (Ballet Realiste) (1917)
        14:12
        Orchestre National de l'Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Louis Frémaux
      3. Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
        Sonata In G Minor For Violin & Piano, L. 140
        1. 2.
          1. Allegro vivo
          4:53
          Augustin Dumay, Maria João Pires
      4. Sergei Prokofiev (1891 - 1953)
        Violin Concerto No.1 In D, Op.19
        1. 3.
          1. Andantino
          9:57
          Shlomo Mintz, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado
      5. Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971)
        Les Noces
        1. Première Partie
          1. 4.
            Premier Tableau: "La Tresse"
            5:20
            Anny Mory, Patricia Parker, John Mitchinson, Paul Hudson, Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman, Cyprien Katsaris, Homero Francesch, Nicholas Cleobury, English Bach Festival Percussion Ensemble, Leonard Bernstein, English Bach Festival Chorus
      6. Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 - 1975)
        Symphony No.12 in D minor, Op.112 "The Year 1917"
        1. 5.
          1. Revolutionary Petrograd (Moderato - Allegro - Più mosso - Allegro)
          12:26
        2. 6.
          2. Razliv (Allegro. L'istesso tempo - Adagio)
          12:59
        3. 7.
          3. Aurora (L'istesso tempo - Allegro)
          4:27
        4. 8.
          4. Dawn of Humanity (L'istesso tempo - Allegretto - Allegro - Moderato)
          9:21
          Göteborgs Symfoniker, Neeme Järvi
    Playing Time 01:13:35

The Year 1917 – A Timeline

 

January

22 Woodrow Wilson gives his “Peace without victory” speech before the U.S. Senate.

February

13 The Dutch dancer Mata Hari is arrested for spying.

March

7 The “February Revolution” starts in Petrograd/St. Petersburg (22 February by the old-style Julian calendar).

11 Premiere of Respighi’s Fountains of Rome at the Teatro Augusteo in Rome, conducted by  Antonio Guarnieri. (Toscanini had refused to conduct the piece the year before, because it had been programmed alongside music by Wagner.)

15 Tsar Nicholas II abdicates (2 March old style).

April

6 USA joins World War One by declaring war on Germany.

7 El corregidor y la molinera by Falla (later to be developed into El sombrero de tres picos) is premiered at the Teatro Eslava in Madrid.

May

5 Premiere of Debussy’s Violin Sonata by Gaston Poulet and Claude Debussy; this is Debussy’s last public performance.

12 First performance of Bartók’s The Wooden Prince at the Budapest Opera conducted by Egisto Tango.

Summer

Prokofiev completes his Violin Concerto No. 1. The premiere is planned for November, but, because of the revolution in Russia, the Concerto doesn’t receive its first performance until 1922, in Paris.

Ravel completes Le Tombeau de Couperin in Normandy. The work, composed between 1914 and 1917 was written in memory of friends who had been killed in the war. The work is planned to be premiere immediately in Paris, but a bombardment causes the performance to be postponed.

June

4 First Pulitzer Prizes awarded.

13 Bridge’s Cello Sonata is given its premiere by Felix Salmond and William Murdoch at the Wigmore Hall in London.

July

31 Battle of Passchendaele begins.

August

17 British war poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon meet for the first time; Owen is killed in action in November 1918.

October

Stravinsky completes the short score of Les Noces.

November

7 Lenin and the Bolsheviks storm the Winter Palace (25 October old style); start of the “October Revolution” and Russian Civil War.