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David Hurwitz, May 2009

Robert Craft has no peer as a conductor of Stravinsky’s neo-classical work, and he’s more than competitive everywhere else…Outstanding performances include Les Noces, Oedipus Rex, Orpheus, Agon, Jeux de Cartes, Pulcinella, and The Fairy’s Kiss. Soloists, whether vocal or instrumental, are uniformly impressive, as are the sonics and the orchestral playing. So if you’re looking for an easy way to acquire the most important body of ballet music ever composed in the history of the universe (and you probably have the three early ballets anyway), this set is a great deal.

James Leonard, April 2009

It should be said at the outset that these are uniformly superlative performances and that the digital sound is consistently direct and vivid. And it should further be said that Craft clearly knows these pieces like he knows his own mind, and every performance here rings true…Craft’s colors are mostly cool and clear without heat or tang, his tempos are mostly moderate and always controlled, and his affection for the music, while undoubted, tends to turn up in the oddest places. Instead of leaning into The Firebird’s jubilant climax, the Scènes de Ballet’s noble “Pas-de-deux,” or Apollo’s radiant “Apotheosis,” Craft finds expressivity in the Nightingale’s icy sonorities, Agon’s rigorous rhythms, or the Orpheus’ austere “Apotheosis.”…Craft’s clear-eyed approach grows out Stravinsky’s, and his performances are much like Stravinsky’s in their lucidity and intensity, though with even more precisely articulated conducting.

Steve Koenig
Acoustic Levitation, April 2009

Robert Craft, as many will know, was Stravinsky’s friend, confidant, and book-cowriter from 1948 until the composer’s death in 1971, and therefore has accordant insight into his music…Naxos has boxed up these six separately-available budget-priced discs at an even lower price…Each disc has notes for each work, written by Robert Craft. Some of the booklets are downright chunky, and all compositions with texts (Pulcinella, Oedipus, Les Noces, Nightingale) present them in their original languages plus side-by-side English translations; you will not have to go online for them. Thanks, Naxos.

All of these recordings were previously released on the now defunct Koch International Classics and MusicMasters labels. This box will serve anyone well as a standard Stravinsky reference set, even those who already own the Sony 22-CD Stravinsky box or the 8-disc Ansermet on Decca.

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