“Valery Gergiev is the conductor to choose if it’s raw primitivism you’re after and blow the detail. There's plenty of red mist, and at times you can almost smell the sweat and tribal greasepaint, but it’s also unkempt in places and not for all moods.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2008
“it's as thrilling as anyone could have wished, a riot of rhythms and colours dispatched with a heady mixture of virtuosity and controlled savagery. The recording is astonishing, there's so much detail and a natural sense of air around everything, yet the intimate intensity of the orchestra pit is never sacrificed for the broader soundstage.” Andrew McGregor, bbc.co.uk, 20th November 2002
“This is probably the most extraordinary Rite ofSpring to have been dreamt up since Stravinsky's own final (and finest) 1960 recording. Stravinsky himself said, in so many words, that The Rite was born from his unconscious. And although now isn't the time or place to ponder to what extent his – and our – unconscious minds are capable (if at all) of harbouring any memories of pre-Christian ritual, suffice it so say that an exceptional performance of The Rite should at least have us thinking about it as a possibility…and about why we respond to The Rite in the way that we do.
Among modern interpreters, there isn't anyone better than Gergiev at the important dual roles of showman and shaman. So many of the score's darker workings have a striking profile here – tubas bellowing strange moans, the bass drum sending shock waves around the performance space, the lower strings in 'Spring Rounds' almost 'exhaling' their notes, and, for once, giving a proper foundation to that most significant of quiet chords – the one where the Sage kisses the earth. Indeed, 'Earth' and the 'elemental' seem not so much cultivated in this performance, as an inherent part of it.
Either Gergiev has really pondered the 'sound stuff' of the Rite, or it just comes naturally to him and his players. Though whether nature or nurture, the end results make for a marginally more compelling overall listen than all the finest recorded Rites of the last four decades. More controversial is some of the timing of 'events', especially the delay of the ascent to the final chord, though when it arrives, you wonder if its shocking make-up has ever been as effectively exposed. The delaying tactics – theatrical pauses and suspensions – proved a little more problematic in the second half of Scriabin's Poem ofEcstasy – along with Gergiev's extremes of tempo in the piece. But should one even be thinking these thoughts when offered a Poem which openly embraces the extravagant wonders of the piece as this one does? Better to marvel at all the mysterious curves, the fabulous dark rushes of sound, the celebratory splendours, and the final resolution (dissolution?) into an uncomplicated glory of C major. Here, as in The Rite, the recording is superb.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010