(1998/re-issue 2007) Naxos
The Philharmonia, Robert Craft conductor
Susan Narucki, soprano
Stravinsky’s settings of two short lyrics by Russian Symblist poet Konstantin Balmont are his first works to dispense with key signatures. Composed in Ustilug, Russia, in 1911, immediately after Petrushka and before The Rite of Spring, they continue the exploration - in the latter part of “The Dove” - of bitonality begun in the former and anticipate the harmonic density in the Introduction of the latter. But for the most part the songs are extremely simple, and among the most graceful Stravinsky ever wrote.
Concertizing in Japan in the spring of 1959, Stravinsky told an interviewer:
"I came into contact with Japan in the course of my work many years ago. In 1913, I composed a small work, which used three short Japanese poems for its texts. I was interested at the time in Japanese woodblock prints. What attracted me was that this was a two-dimensional art without any sense of solidity. I discover this sense of the two-dimensional in some Russian translations of poetry, and attempt to express this sense in my music."
The Three Japanese Lyrics are respectively dedicated to the composers Maurice Delage, Florent Scmitt, and Maurice Ravel. Delalge, who had visited Japan in the spring of 1912, kindled Stravinsky’s enthusiasm for its art.
- Notes by Robert Craft