Igor Stravinsky The Complete Columbia Album Collection is an unprecedented reissue of the complete recordings of his works that Igor Stravinsky made for CBS/American Columbia, bringing together for the very first time on CD all of the mono "Stravinsky conducts Stravinsky" recordings issued in the 1940s and 1950s alongside the more familiar stereo remakes from the 1960s, as well as all the authorized performances that Stravinsky's assistant Robert Craft conducted for the label in the composer's presence, after age and infirmity had restricted his own ability to do so.
Is there any doubt that Robert Craft is the reigning Stravinsky conductor of our time? His years of friendship with, apprenticeship to and quasi-adoption by Stravinsky certainly give him bona fides for this, but it is his impeccable musicianship that tells here. These performances have appeared before on CD Jeu de cartes and Danses concertantes on Koch, and the Scènes de Ballet, Variations, and Capriccio on MusicMasters all recorded in the 1990s. Naxos is in the process of re-releasing on their own label all of Craft's Stravinsky recordings of that period (plus a few new ones done specifically for them) and the series is an undiluted triumph.
One of the big events of 2017 was the opening of the Hamburg Philharmonie. Krzysztof Urbański and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra gave inaugural concerts there that made a lasting impact on audiences and critics alike. On this occasion, the Polish conductor chose to record one of the works closest to his heart, The Rite of Spring: "Stravinsky invented a new language. For me, The Rite is not a score, but a painting: on each page, I see Matisse, Gauguin, the Fauve painters . . . It’s an explosion of colours, emotions, and surprises too: if you don’t know the piece, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s so suggestive that you don’t need to do all that much with the orchestra, the magic is written into the music. . .
First released in 1984 and reissued in 2001, this disc featuring the Alban Berg Quartet's recordings of the string quartets of Debussy and Ravel, as well as Stravinsky's Three Pieces, Concertino, and Double Canon for string quartet should never be out of the catalog. The Alban Berg Quartet is not necessarily the first group one would think of for this repertoire, but the performances here are consistently impressive, if somewhat uncharacteristic.