This is a delightfully crisp interpretation of Stravinsky's whimsical "L'Histoire du Soldat", which can be performed as a theater piece with narration and dance, or as on this CD, simply as a chamber composition for 7 instruments; clarinet, cornet, trombone, double-bass, and with a percussion battery representing the devil, and a violin the soldier.
Recorded in '83, there is a "closeness" to the sound on this CD that serves the music well.
One is accustomed to hearing Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol" as a lush orchestral extravaganza, so this arrangement by composer/pianist Easley Blackwood for a small ensemble (flute, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, violin, cello, bass and piano), might sound very strange at first. I think it works on a different level, and though it's not the way I'd like to hear this composition all the time, one can easily appreciate this lovely piece in this "skeletal" version.
Stravinsky having been Rimsky-Korsakov's student, makes this an interesting recording. To quote the booklet insert: "...it brings together two works which, although stylistically worlds apart, are nevertheless imperceptibly connected by virtue of a significant personal and historic relationship between the composers".
The Chicago Pro Musica is comprised of virtuoso musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, organized by clarinetist John Bruce Yeh in 1979. These pieces highlight violinist Albert Igolnikov, but you'll get to hear and appreciate them all as individuals as well as a group in this unusual but pleasing and inventive recording. Total time is 41:47.