STRAVINSKY Symphony Op 1. Suites Nos 1 & 2 (Kitayenko)
The variably transliterated Dmitry Kitaenko continues his Indian summer in the company of musicians with whom he has been associated as artistic advisor and regular guest conductor since 2011. On this evidence their playing is nicely turned rather than supercharged but then the programme scarcely lends itself to earth-shattering revelations. Stravinsky’s early Symphony (1905 07) is very much a student work, the influence of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov more noticeable than any premonitions of modernism. The score betrays scant awareness of Wagner, Liadov, Scriabin or Rachmaninov, unlike Stravinsky’s recently unearthed Chant funèbre or Funeral Song (1908). Kitaenko ensures that it sounds pleasant enough but there’s more space, character and drive in Antal Dorati’s Detroit account (Decca, 9/86).
The two Suites, extrapolated in 1921 and 1925 from wartime piano duets, again display considerable charm. Those averse to Stravinsky’s spikier writing won’t mind a certain decorousness about the music-making here which perhaps fails to tell the whole story. Kitaenko is certainly slower and less pungent than the composer himself in his concert performances of the 1950s.
This pleasant, non-standard fare is captured in the ripe, sonically accommodating style Oehms has previously perfected in Cologne with Kitaenko and the Gürzenich Orchestra. Although playing time is ungenerous – the duration given for the opening Andante of the Suite No 1 (track 5) is out by a factor of 10 – it helps that booklet notes are provided in both German and English. The design is attractive too.