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Stravinsky's Funeral Song

A work by Igor Stravinsky which many believed lost forever, is being brought back to life in spectacular style as Decca Classics announces the first recording of the composer's recently-discovered Funeral Song. The historic new album, to be released on 12 January 2018, features conductor Riccardo Chailly and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra - their debut album together and the start of an exciting new partnership.

The new album restores the lost Funeral Song in its original Stravinsky opus sequence, alongside contemporary orchestral works and a stunning new version of The Rite of Spring. Together, these pieces offer a captivating insight into the early work one of the most important and influential composers of the twentieth century.

Funeral Song, a ten-minute work for symphony orchestra, was composed in the summer of 1908 by Stravinsky (then twenty-six) as a memorial tribute to his beloved teacher Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov and, as his Op 5, is the missing link between his early Fireworks and Scherzo Fantastique (both featured on the new album) and his ballet The Firebird, written for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, which launched Stravinsky's international career.

Funeral Song was feared lost because, as Stravinsky noted in his book The Chronicle of My Life, 'the score of this work unfortunately disappeared in Russia during the Revolution, along with many other things which I had left there'. However, the work was unearthed in 2015 thanks to musicologist Natalia Braginskaya and the St Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory's librarian Irina Sidorenko. A complete set of uncatalogued orchestral parts of Funeral Song was identified in a back room of the archive during a refurbishment of the old conservatoire building, and subsequently a full score was reconstructed for live performance, in collaboration with Stravinsky's publisher, Boosey and Hawkes.

In December 2016, Stravinsky's Funeral Song received its first performance in 107 years, conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. Just a few months later, the work was recorded with Chailly and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra - marking the first album in their new recording partnership. It was recorded on 19 August 2017 at the Lucerne Summer Festival.

Dr Alexander Buhr, Managing Director of Decca Classics, comments: 'It is a rare treat to discover a new piece by one of the great composers, especially one of such quality and historical significance as Stravinsky's Funeral Song. It has been a privilege to collaborate with Maestro Chailly, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Boosey & Hawkes on this world premiere recording and we are proud to add another landmark album to the rich Decca catalogue.'

Since the summer of 2016, Riccardo Chailly has taken over the artistic leadership as Music Director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. By founding the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in 2003, Claudio Abbado and Michael Haefliger made a direct link to the very birth of the Festival in Lucerne in 1938, when Arturo Toscanini gathered celebrated virtuosos of the time into a unique elite orchestra for a gala concert. Each summer, internationally acclaimed soloists, chamber musicians and music teachers are invited to Lucerne, and this 'orchestra of friends' became established around the world as one of the leading symphony orchestras.

Chailly and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra offer a thrilling new account of Stravinsky's Funeral Song. To hear the work on this new album, together with Stravinsky's three previous orchestral works, allows the listener to follow the young composer on his route to worldwide success. Stravinsky himself called it 'the best of my works before The Firebird, and the most advanced in chromatic harmony'. Now its musical significance can be appreciated by listeners around the world today, with the release of this historic first recording.


Posted: 2 December 2017

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