ABSTRACT

In Stravinsky’s Les Noces, folklike fragments are repeated relentlessly and literally. Scored for vocal soloists, chorus, four pianos, and percussion, the final 1923 version of Stravinsky’s Les Noces remains to this day startling and problematic. Stravinsky’s “identification with the collective” is thus “primitive” and pre-individual in Adorno’s imagination. The repetitive features of his music are ritualistic in this respect, symbolic of something stiff and unyielding, more specifically here, the refusal of the collective voice to give way to the variations of the individual. In pieces such as Les Noces, the repetition itself follows a different logic. Themes, motives, and chords are repeated not to be developed along traditional lines but to be displaced. The performance of Stravinsky’s repeated and displaced themes, motives, and chords required mechanical-like precision. In matters of articulation, of small-scale separation and grouping, a crisp, clean, secco approach was necessary if the bite of invention was to be given its due.