Italian composers above others have understood strings, by my judgment. In opera, a personal passion, their compositions have grandly showcased the instrument—the violin—and what it was supposed to do more than have works of other composers. They just write differently for first violins. As a previous student of the violin under private tutelage of a talented German teacher and lifelong violin lover, I’ll humbly purport to be a nearly credible judge. It’s no coincidence that Italy is home to both La Scala and the Stradivarius.
I cannot doubt, however, the rapture in this stringed glory by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky whose non-operatic composition The Firebird Ballet Suite struck me like a blunt object upon first hearing. It didn’t help that the recording had been made at the acoustical wonder of the Concertgebouw. I was floored.
Splendidly composed, strings feature prominently. They’re the central nervous system. And they. Are. Magical.
This clip of Stravinsky conducting the Lullaby and Final Hymn, at 83 , is a glorious sample.