Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
The Rite of Spring (1913) [32:52]
Petrushka - Ballet Suite (1910-1911, 1947 version) [35:32]
London Symphony Orchestra/Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
rec. Walthamstow Town Hall, London, 1989. DDD
first released on Collins Classics 1011-2
ALTO ALC1131 [68:24]
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (b. 1933) is here spectacularly recorded by the Collins engineering team all of 22 years ago. The results approximate to the full cream Decca treatment. The focus is on the voluptuous and the elemental rather than the objective; more Beecham than Boulez; more Golovanov than Haitink. The orchestra is caught in headlong flight in both works. The Rite’s every wail, shriek, rupture, howl and cozening seduction is more than faithfully caught. This conductor has been slighted in some quarters but the present reading and recording force reassessment; so must his exultant de Falla El Sombrero de Tres Picos on EMI Classics. Having just heard the Nimbus version of both works played by the same orchestra with Rozhdestvensky I did a hasty comparison with The Dance of the Earth. Rozhdestvensky is positively low key and at times flaccid beside the rapid-fire vituperative cannonades and enchantments of de Burgos. The grit, spit and fire and some of the tension and tenderness count in favour of Alto. Turning to Petrushka de Burgos again has edge with, for example, a more buoyant Shrovetide Fair and a snappy Danse Russe. Nimbus produce a natural very open sound and it is possibly less contrived than the Collins but I have no doubt which I prefer – it’s this Collins-Alto revival. On the other hand the Nimbus Symphony in Three Movements is to be prized. James Murray provides another in-depth programme note to inform and also to give links to other sources including Stephen Walsh’s book ‘A Creative Spring’ (Jonathan Cape, 2000) and the 2006 BBC programme about the scandalous and sensational first night of The Rite. Take into the reckoning that Alto discs are super-bargain price, that the Alto is generously filled and there is no contest. This is a recording project in which de Burgos was able to bring zinging excitement to works which the orchestra would have known to the point of threadbare routine. The results are a glowing object lesson to his recreative energy.

Rob Barnett
Spectacularly recorded ... the full cream Decca treatment: voluptuous, elemental … an orchestra caught in headlong flight.