Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms
The conducting soprano Barbara Hannigan always surprises her audiences with well-considered and innovative concerts. On this occasion she gathers L’Ascension by Messiaen, Stravinsky’s choral tribute to the Lord in the firmament of his power and symphonies for wind instruments, and Ligeti’s harmonic crystal sounds – music that has triumphed over gravity. Pure beauty from three orchestral masters who have made invaluable contributions to the history of music. You can now enjoy all four pieces here on GSOplay.
When in 1930 he received an order from the conductor Sergei Koussevitsky, who was also a Russian exile, to write something for the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s fiftieth anniversary, he saw an opportunity to make his dreams come true. He was given free rein to write something entirely of his own accord, and, to the great dismay of the management, ditched the orchestra’s admired violins and violas, but called for a four-part choir, augmented brass and woodwinds (but no clarinets), plus timpani and two pianos. But despite the large resources, the musical material is used in a very economical way, which does not prevent the result from being both powerful and expressive. Stravinsky later revised his work and presented a revised version in 1948.