Stravinsky - Pulcinella Suite: 'Sinfonia', 'Gavotta' and 'Vivo'

Revision cards for Stravinsky Music A2 set work

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First perfomed 15 May 1920 at the Paris Opera

Comissioned by Serge Diaghilev, the impresario who founded the Ballets Russes

Reduced scale ballet score of Diaghilev's post-war enterprises

Neoclassical style:

- Reflects a reaction against the emotion and 'gianticism' of late Romantic music

- Uses 18th century models

- Sinfonia based on music by Gallo

- Gavotta is extracted from keyboard variations by Monza

- Vivo is built on a cello sonata by Pergolesi

  • Stravinsky 'recomposes' this 18th century material
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Rhythm and Metre

Basic rhythmic schemes disrupted by:

- Heavy off-beat accents (Vivo, bar 33)

- Persistent syncopation (Sinfonia, bars 17-18 in violin II)

- Bars with differing time signatures (Sinfonia, bars 10-12)

- Introduction of long sustained notes at odds with 'foreground' music (Sinfonia, bars 7-9)

- Irregular groupings of shorter notes (Gavotta, groups of 5 (bar 27), 9 (bar 31) 11 (bar 73), 12 (bar 7))

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  • Melody is recognisable to original sources. However, Stravinsky does introduce:

- Blurred outlines through glissandi (Vivo, bar 2, trombone)

- Extensive 'non-Baroque' ornamentation (Gavotta, bar 83, flute 1)

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Disruptions include:

Introduction of additional notes, resulting in 'wrong-note' harmony (e.g. added 9th in the violin II part in bar 3 of the Sinfonia)

Combination of G and D major chords at bar 44 (beat 1) of Gavotta

A loud tonic-over-dominant chord at bar 33 of the Vivo

Use of folk style drones in unexpected contexts (e.g. Sinfonia, violin II, bars 17-18)

Weakening of bass lines (e.g. Sinfonia, bar 43 - sudden drop in volume and removal of double bass from the texture)

Unexpected cadences (e.g. III-I at the end of the Vivo)

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  • Contrasting textures. Mainly melody dominated homophony 
  • Imitation in wind section at bars 6-10 of Sinfonia 
  • Two part oboe and horn writing at the start of variation I in Gavotta 
  • Unison in main theme at the start of the vivo
  • Heterophony between flutes and trumpet from bar 38 of the Vivo
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Original pieces were taken from chamber music or keyboard sources, allowing freedom in orchestration and texture

No continuo

Solo quintet in the Sinfonia and Vivo may have been suggested by the Baroque concerto grosso. Unusual concertino grouping

Solo trombone in Vivo with glissandi is a 20th Century feature

High double bass solo in Vivo is a 20th Century feature

Gavotta is scored for wind instruments only - reflecting Stravinskys preferences from other works

Melody and drone at bars 17-18

Sustained chords in the solo quintet, supported by repeated chords in the orchestra

Quasi Alberti bass in bassoons in variation II

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Structure and Tonality

Sinfonia - rounded binary form: A, bars 1-15, B, bars 16-44

- could be abbreviated ritornello form: ritornello theme appearing in bar 1 in G, bar 16 in D and bar 35 in G

Modulations to B minor in bar 26, E minor 29, A minor 31

Circle of 5ths progression used, like 18th century music

Gavotta is binary form - includes only two of the six variations Monza wrote 

- First part modulates from D to A (bar 10), then to G (bar 14), briefly through A (bar 18), F sharp minor (bar 20), E minor (bar 22), then to D (bar 24 to end)

Vivo is rounded binary form - modulations from F to C at end of first section (bar 21), and to tonic minor (bar 46)

Stravinsky departs from original by inserting three bars at the start of the second section (bars 22-24)

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