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The austerity of Stravinsky’s final decade of music is echoed in the white-and-blue packaging of this excellent, though rather short, CD from Philippe Herreweghe and his outstanding Collegium Vocale Gent and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic. Stravinsky’s serial compositions have never won the support of the public or the record companies and this is only Threni’sthird recording. Herreweghe’s forces make light of the work’s considerable challenges, revealing the cool beauty of this 1958 setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. With excellent soloists and Collegium Vocale Gent’s pitch-perfect intonation and balance, this is the finest Threni available. Herreweghe directs a no less engaging performance of Requiem Canticles (1965–66), the composer’s final major composition, though here the competition is more robust in the shape of Oliver Knussen’s fine 1992 recording. With the setting of Eliot’s The Dove Descending Breaks the Air (1962) and Stravinsky’s completion of Gesualdo’s Da pacem Domine, Herreweghe has given us a disc to treasure. Only one gripe: a CD coming in at under 48 minutes’ duration is too short. There are other late Stravinsky pieces that could have been included – Canticum sacrum, for example.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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