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Jonathan Darlington conducts Debussy & Stravinsky
Jonathan Darlington and the Duisburger Philhamoniker create a most exciting live recording of two key works of the twentieth century. This is part of the Living Concert Series.
“The playing is good throughout both performances...Darlington conducts both scores with understanding and conviction. He brings lots of energy and a sense of ebb and flow to the second movement of La Mer and there’s admirable vigour to his reading of the third movement.” MusicWeb International, 20th February 2014
Stravinsky: The Firebird, The Rite of Spring & Petrushka
Pierre Boulez’s name has always been closely linked with the three great early Russian ballets of Stravinsky – The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. Here are all three, in outstanding performances with the premier orchestras of Chicago and Cleveland.
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Stravinsky conducts Stravinsky
1940 & 1946 Recordings
Mark Obert-Thorn, producer and audio restoration engineer
This programme brings together the three great ballets which Stravinsky composed for Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev. These vibrantly atmospheric scores were all revised after their Parisian premières, and the 1945 version of the Firebird Suite was still brand new at the time of this recording. In what are widely considered to be the best of his commercial recordings of these works, Stravinsky the conductor brings out the expressive and vividly incisive rhythmic strengths of the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York.
Igor Stravinsky made three sets of commercial recordings of his three great early ballet scores. The first was made in the late 1920s with rather ragged-sounding French and British ensembles and less conducting experience on the composer’s part. The last set was made in stereo in the early 1960s with a pick-up orchestra of Los Angeles musicians at a time when the conductor was at an advanced age. The present series, made midway between the other two, is generally considered his best. It features an ensemble of high quality (Barbirolli’s New York Philharmonic), and the composer is on his best podium form. These are generally considered to be the best of Igor Stravinsky’s own recorded versions of his great ballets. Collectors will want these historically significant audio documents in the most detailed sound possible, and renowned technician Mark Obert-Thorn’s tremendous work in audio restoration means this is exactly what they will find with this release.
“they certainly are exciting, not least because you sense the virtuosos of their day still struggling to master incredibly demanding new music. Forget the recording quality and revel in the rhythmic pungency.” The Times, 25th February 2012 ***
“Invaluable new transfers of Stravinsky on top form as a conductor. This electrifying performance is the finest of his Rite of Spring recordings, and the 1945 Firebird Suite is gripping.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 *****
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University of Houston at the Meyerson, Vol. 2
University of Houston Wind Ensemble, Eddie Green
(arr. for wind band)
Stravinsky: Pétrouchka & Le Sacre du printemps
This release sees the critically acclaimed Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under its music director Andrew Litton perform two scores by Igor Stravinsky that stand at the pinnacle of 20th-century orchestral music.
Both Pétrouchka and Le Sacré du printemps were written for the ballet impressario Sergei Diaghilev and his company Les Ballets Russes.
The particularly striking aspect of Pétrouchka was the extensive use of folk song and street music, treated with extreme refinement and often biting irony – the character of Petrushka, a puppet come to life, was described by Stravinsky as ‘the immortal and unhappy hero of every fair-ground in all countries’.
The scandal associated with the 1913 première of Le sacré du printemps has become legendary – a scandal probably caused as much by Nijinsky’s choreography as by Stravinsky’s score. But even today, the music offers an extremely powerful experience, above all through its rhythmic qualities.
“Litton and the Bergen players are bursting with life” International Record Review
“the refinement and precision of the playing are hugely impressive. Litton's care with the textures in Petrushka and his unfussy way of teasing out the instrumental strands in The Rite of Spring matches that exactness” The Guardian, 14th April 2011 ***
“Andrew Litton conducts the Bergen Philharmonic in what is at times a visceral reading [of Rite]. The playing is rhythmically sharp, if not quite at Stravinsky's own breakneck speeds all the time...if you're looking for a freshly painted Petrushka or a Rite to shake you up a bit, this is shockingly good. Just make sure the neighbours are out first.” International Record Review, May 2011
“Virtuoso though the playing and conducting are, this is not a self-regarding performance but one that never loses contact with its deep Russian roots. The playing is polished and well balanced but can roughen to ferocious barbarity...This never has the sense of being played for thrills, yet the effect is all the more thrilling for coming from such depths...a worthy memorial to a fine artist.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2011
“True to form, Litton draws exceptionally clean textures from the orchestra, notably fine woodwind colouring, with a keen eye for every facet of both scores...Litton's almost neo-classical approach brings an attractive delicacy to passages such as the 'Ritual Action of the Ancestors'” BBC Music Magazine, July 2011 **
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Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
This release is the final installment in a trio of discs that celebrate the music of Stravinsky in Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Thierry Fischer.
This live orchestral recording brings together two contrasting works both composed for the famed ballet company: Stravinsky’s infamous The Rite of Spring – full of dark, rhythmic menace and dissonance – and Poulenc’s Les biches (most aptly translated as ‘the does’) – which captures the heady atmosphere and risqué thrills of young women in the 1920s' party scene.
“Helped by state-of-the-art sound, Fischer's refinement speaks volumes in the Rite's quieter passages, where the string clusters and gurgling woodwind have a lucid beauty that contrasts finely with the weight of the rest...The real treat, though, is Les Biches.... There is a dark undertow in the performance, with echoes of Offenbach and 18th-century elegance... The tricky choral writing is expertly negotiated, and the playing poised in the extreme.” The Guardian, 12th May 2011 ****
“There’s so much to enjoy in the sheer sound of this performance – the gorgeous, Impressionistic textures conjured up in the slow opening to the ballet’s second half, or the swift traipse through "The Augurs of Spring", with the offbeat chords sonorous and weighty. And the "Dance of the Earth" is terrific..You can almost feel the delight on the players’ faces” Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, 11th June 2011
“Fischer's French sensibility is evident from the very start of this brightly lit and articulate Rite: a provocative and teasing rubato in the opening bassoon solo immediately hints at the sexual and the chic...The precision of the Welsh orchestra is impressive, the clarity and vitality of the sound throwing up detail that one thought had long since stopped being surprising. But here it is - freshly minted” Gramophone Magazine, September 2011
“this is a no-nonsense, hard-driven account of the Rite, sure to raise the pulse rate. Both the 'Dance of the earth' and 'Sacrificial Dance' combine searing energy and precision. At times it is a little emotionless, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, Fischer avoiding the mannerisms that beset some versions....[Les Biches] bounces along as genially as the Rite is menacing.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2011 ****
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