One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
The Rite of Spring
 (1911-1913) (revised 1947 version) [34:45]
MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis
rec. 7-9 October 2013, Stolberger Strasse, Cologne, Germany. DDD
SONY CLASSICAL 88875061412 [34:45]

Although track timings are provided, Sony nowhere states the full running time of this mid-price disc; one glance above at my own calculation will tell you why. It is in fact one of the slower accounts on record but that will hardly compensate for the lack of pairings in the eyes of the punter used to getting a full eighty minutes even on bargain discs.

The performance itself is in fact very good indeed, both in terms of engineering and playing. Even so, the short playing time and lack of fillers are not offset by conductor Teodor Currentzis’ rather pretentious verse “The Mystery of Spring” (presumably translated from his original Greek or Russian into English, German and French), as opposed to any notes or biographies. All this might be forgiven if this recording were unique and indispensable. Currentzis claims that his aim was to capture “the pure Russian essence of the piece”; thus we might infer that he thinks previous recordings have failed to do so. In fact conductors such as Gergiev and Stravinsky himself might have had something to say about that.

For comparison purposes, I pulled down from my shelves four other recordings: the two by those two aforementioned conductors in 1999 with the Kirov and 1961 with the Columbia SO respectively, and those by Rattle with the National Youth Orchestra in 1977 and Ozawa with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1968. Astonishingly, it is the latter, nearly fifty years old, which continues to retain my loyalties, both in terms of sound and performance. Rattle’s recording is a tour de force but the NYO cannot compete in terms of sound or orchestral opulence. Stravinsky’s own recording, while swift and incisive, is in muddy sound and tends to confirm the observation that composers do not necessarily make the best conductors of their own music. He fails to generate the excitement and tension of the best versions. Gergiev’s is massive and very detailed, impressive in its own way, but it is the young Ozawa whose hell-for-leather Úlan comes as close to as criminally graphic a representation of ritual murder in music as you are likely to hear.

To be fair, Currentzis runs him closes but he takes risks with the tempo of at least four of the slower sections which, to my ears, do not quite come off compared with Ozawa’s fleeter, crisper execution. The Introductions to both Parts 1 and 2 are respectively half a minute and a full minute slower than Ozawa’s, sacrificing tension; the same leisurely approach afflicts the “Spring Rounds” and the “Mystical Circles of the Young Girls”, which are also around a minute longer. These timings add up and explain why Currentzis’s version is one of the longest on record and, despite its impact, fails to rival the very best. He is apparently compensating for any loss of momentum by taking the faster movements a shade too fast. By contrast, I find Gergiev freer, jazzier, more inclined to apply slancio and emphasise the ostinato rhythms, resulting in a scarier effect and a greater sense of over-arching vision. Currentzis’ overview is more discrete and episodic. Rattle is first refined and controlled, then dark and menacing, but Currentzis’ management of the crescendo in the “Dances of the Young Girls” is masterly. I love the buzz, thrum and thwack of his double basses. Each conductor has something important to say about this momentous music and I do not want to denigrate any of them. Ultimately the combination of extraordinarily vivid, re-mastered “High Performance” vintage sound, more thrills and a coupling with “Petroushka” providing seventy minutes of great music make Ozawa’s recording my enduring recommendation.

Ralph Moore

Previous reviews: Marc Bridle ~~ Roy Westbrook

 

 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger