Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol. 5, No. 8 (1931-05)

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231 May 1931, Vol. V. No. 8 ception; and since it is psychologically impossible to follow two lines of equally important voices, Mussorgsky abandons horizontal writing in favor of harmonic vertical style. Such melodies as the “summer motive” in Trepak' or the “dream mo- tive” in one of the Nursery Songs , are not of con- trapuntal origin, but proceed directly from Mus- sorgsky’s inexhaustible melodic gift. In sum, in Mussorgsky, there is no other musical science than the exact knowledge of natural limits of musical perception. Modern music reached the peak of complexity with such creations as Stravinsky’s Sacre‘ and Varese’s Ameriques. The reaction came with sur- feit. To paraphrase Einstein, space became more important than matter, and Stravinsky wrote the History of a Soldier, a terse, economical work with plenty of room between the staves. Incidentally, this is one of the few Stravinsky scores that re- veals an influence of Mussorgsky. Prokofiev approaches Mussorgsky even nearer in his Overture on Hebrew Themes" (1919) and The Ugly Duckling (1914), which are his most unobstructed compositions. Manuel de Falla who, as a composer with a powerful culture of national music, should be immune to extra-Spanish influ- ences, succumbs to Mussorgsky in the recent Con- certo for harpsichord and chamber orchestra. * 2 * 4 Debussy, still earlier, used Mussorgsky’s vigorous harmonies as a foil for his impressionistic fraili- ties. Whenever directness and simple effectiveness are conveyed, Mussorgsky’s ghost stalks near. In the field of applied music, Mussorgsky’s dis- coveries are accepted as the only alternative to the artificial song of Verdi. There is no choice 1 —a modern composer writing musical recitative has to follow Mussorgsky. It is curious to observe how happily Mussorgsky lives alongside old Verdi in some of the up-to-the-minute modern operas, and how ludicrous is any mingling of Mussorgsky and Wagner. Verdi’s method is usually followed in modern reversions to arias and ariosos, whereas the recitative remains Mussorgskian. And if we group Chaikovsky with the Italian school, then we obtain a perfect clue to the mysteries of some modern compositions. Of course, we must be careful not to confuse formal resemblances with intrinsic affinities. Particularly, Stravinsky’s eel-like movements must be clearly comprehended before we pronounce him—and with him a good three-quarters of all composing gentlemen and gentlewomen—a syn- thetic product of Mussorgsky’s realism and Chaikovsky’s formal emotionalism. Stravinsky’s 1- .Mussorgsky: Trepak (from the Death Cycle), sung by Viaaimir Rosing - (Vocalion A-0235—acoustical; withdrawn). 2. Stravinsky: Sacre du Printemps, conducted by the com- poser for Columbia, and by Leopold Stokowski for Victor. 3 - Prokofiev: Overture on Hebrew Themes, played by the Victor Salon Orchestra of Argentina. (Victor 47167). 4. De Falla: Concerto for Harpsichord and Chamber Or- chestra, played by the com' aser. (French Columbia). RECORDINGS Worth While BACH B MINOR MASS (V) $25.50 TANNHAUSER, Complete in 36 Parts (C) $36.00 Love Scenes from “PRIVATE LIVES” (V) $1.25 VICTOR ' COLUMBIA ' BRUNSWICK Records and Albums Domestic and Foreign Recordings Send us the list of records that you are unable to buy of your local dealer. BRIGGS & BRIGGS 1270 MASSACHUSETTS AVE. Harvard Square Cambridge, Mass. works—ballets, little operas, symphonic settings —are all applied music; yet he adopts methods of absolute music, as Wagner did before him. Among younger Russians, Vladimir Dukelsky in his little opera Demoiselle-Pay sanne, follows Mussorgsky’s tradition, writing in a direct and 100 per cent efficient manner, at least in the recita- tive. Arias in this opera bear the imprint of Glinka and the Italians. Another “rising Rus- sian” Nicolas Nabakov, in his Ode is purely Italian, but it would be interesting to know how he would manage without Mussorgsky had he written an opera rather than an invocation. The tendency towards harmonic directness and away from umbilical counterpoint grows stronger even in Germany, the land of mental complexities. Wagner and Strauss are the chief losers in this movement. Mussorgsky and Verdi are the win- ners. And as always, the winners are praised for their practical deficiences as well as for their virtues. It is understandable, therefore, that the enshrinement of Mussorgsky is conducted with little discrimination. The hue and cry raised after the production of the unbowdlerized (not to say, unrimskykorsakovized) Boris Godunov , is largely influenced by the spirit of the times. How many of Rimsky-Korsakov’s indignant deprecators can