The Jerusalem Symphony conductor Frederic Chaslin keeps finding errors in Stravinsky’s published score. So which edition should he use?
I’m writing you because, like many conductors, I will be celebrating on May 29th the 100th anniversary of the “Rite of Spring”.
I have been long complaining and fighting with publishers about the many mistakes that one can find, especially in French opera that are beyond description. Still, in a score like the Rite of Spring, knowing how precise Stravinsky was for details, it is unlikely you could find any single mistake. If you do, and you are Pierre Boulez and have a TV crew nearby, you’d be famous for eternity (remember the movie by Rolf Liebermann). I don’t have a TV crew but found a couple of things that Stravinsky probably dropped here and there in his various compositions, but those are minor details.
Now, my problem, and the reason of my message, is the orchestra parts. The new set that Boosey & Hawkes is sending (and for which they are charging a lot) is just not possibly the same that was used in the past. The mistakes that one would find in the parts are not only A LOT, they are really bad.
An example? You open the 2nd violins, and right on their first entrance, Stravinsky repeated their figure 3 times. He wrote that figure in a crescendo and for the next times, he wrote “sim”, which the publisher should understand and “simile”, SIMILAR. Instead, they wrote DIM, diminuendo. So just one letter different, and the musicians will play the opposite of what they should. And it goes on and on until the end with small details that matter.
Another example? the violas have, around the figure 184, a lot of grace notes. In the original score, those notes are at the beginning of the bar, were all accidentals are cancelled. In the part, they are inside the previous bar, being impacted by whatever accidental was inside that bar. That makes a difference! Again for the viola this is a small example among many.
So, I can assure the Jerusalem audience that they will have a “Kosher” version clean of mistakes. I strongly advise my colleagues who are using a new material to review it, and to the publisher, I suggest to discount their rental.