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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 7. 1962.



A lot of guff is written in reviews of Stravinsky. A model of clarity, he would probably resent it as much as I do. Much is made of the "frenetic rhythms" of Le Sacre with their "stark primitiveness." Rhythm is a feature of a lot of other music, too, but 1 found I did not understand what rhythm was, until I heard Le Sacre. Now I am beginning to hear it in Beethoven and Haydn, given a good performance.

What gives Le Sacre its kick, though, is the unequal repetition of strong rhythmic figures, giving a passage a deliberate discontinuity. Stravinsky will repeat a striking figure on the spot in all sorts of ways; some longer than the first, others shorter. Then when all its possibilities of expression and syncopation seem to be exhausted, off we go again. If a progression leads somehow to a tremendous crashing chord, just hold your breath and the music will run past and turn about and charge at it from another direction. If the opening of the second half of Le Sacre sounds to you (as it does to me) the purest and deepest expression of a D minor triad, don't lift back the pickup arm to play it again: the repeat is built in. Besides its climaxes of gradually-accumulated power, Le Sacre has moments of great lyricism and calm. It is far from the continuous full-scale bombardment it is sometimes made out to be. In an otherwise flawless performance, I noticed one quiet mis-entry from a bass clarinet who sounded suitably chastened thereafter.