Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 18, No. 9. July 1, 1954
Bones, Bones, Bones No Kudos for N.Z.B.S
Bones, Bones, Bones No Kudos for N.Z.B.S.
Frederick Page and Owen Jensen will soon broadcast Igor Stravinsky's 19-year-old Concerto per Due Pianoforte Soli. This will be, so far as can be ascertained, the work's first New Zealand performance. Always to the fore in any movement to propagate the art of Strawinsky, Mr. Page has done well to choose to present us with some modern-style severities from the foremost living composer.
But it is deplorable that we should have had to wait so long to hear the work. The same situation prevalls throughout the nation in respect of the major works of nearly all other contemporary composers music. The Broadcasting Service is to blame: it controls nearly the whole of our music-making organisation of National Orchestra's programmes. One cannot approve its timorous policy.
Fortunately, the opinions of Messrs, Page and Jensen are highly respected by the pundits of the programme Division, and if those two gentlemen decide they will play Strawinsky, they play Strawinsky!
According to Virgil Thomson, the subject of Strawinsky's Concerto is its style: just as Brahms preferred subject-matter was the style of Beethoven's middle period, so the subject-matter of Strawinsky's Concerto for Two Pianos Alone is the style of Beethoven's later period, in particular that of the last four or five piano sonatas. It contains a stormy sonata movement, an air with coloratura ornaments, and a set of extended variations ending with a fugue. The melodic material is angular and strong, the emotional content violent: the calmer passages are static and more than a little mannered. Transitions are operated brusquely and there is a certain willful barbarism about the relation of theme to accompaniment. The whole picture of the later Beethoven music is complete with all its mannerisms and perfectly real seriousness.
And, as always, Strawinsky gets right down to the bones of the matter.