No two works of Stravinsky are alike, but The Rake's Progress is more different than most.
As we look back over that amazing list of masterpieces, what strikes us now is the unity of the entire canon. From Le Sacre du Printemps to Abraham and Isaac half a century later the ‘feel’ of a Stravinsky work is unmistakable: that combination of a hieratic, ritualistic style with a wonderfully lively and witty texture. (The only comparable achievement is the work of the late Yeats.) This is particularly evident in the stage works. ‘Les Noces’, Stravinsky said, ‘presents rather than tells’. Here, as in Oedipus, the music and the stage action show a ritual unfolding, much as a priest might show an icon to the crowd, in André Boucourechlev's apt analogy. These works eschew expressivity, psychology and mimesis; they do not say ‘I am’ or ‘I wish’, but ‘It is’ and ‘It shall be’.