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Stravinsky: Pétrouchka, Le Sacre Du Printemps / Boulez

Release Date: 10/13/1992 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 435769   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Both of these works are central to the 20th century’s orchestral canon, and Pétrouchka has left its stamp on a wide range of music since its composition, including some of Tom and Jerry’s best soundtracks. Le Sacre du printemps created a riot on its first performance, and like Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, helped push the world of the arts kicking and screaming into the hot and bloody machinery of the 20th century. Boulez once again gives us such a focus of accuracy that, familiar with the pieces, one can have a real sense of vertigo, gazing into each musical moment with both microscopic detail and a grand feel of scale and occasion. The burlesque of Pétrouchka is portrayed in an almost cinematically spectacular style Read more in this recording, and the music responds well to such a succulently delicious recording. Rawness and energy characterise Stravinsky’s own 1960 recording, and if you can live with a less refined orchestra and occasionally slightly overloaded old analogue tape - congested rather than distorting - then the old original will probably impress just as much. There are some marvellously luminous benefits from modern technology of course. That glorious Shrovetide Fair rarely sounded so good, and as ever The Cleveland Orchestra displays its sheer class at every turn of the page.

This recording of Le Sacre du printemps under Boulez has been criticised in the past for its rather leisurely tempi, and once again that undertow of threat and danger which makes this music so potent is more of a latent undertone than a direct assault on the senses. Boulez does have an authentic sense of the elemental however, and as with The Firebird builds his performance with a wider sense of architecture, saving the main impact of the musical message for true climaxes. This makes Stravinsky’s 1960 Columbia Symphony experience a good deal more gritty and intense from start to finish, but doesn’t mean that Boulez can’t pack a punch when the score demands. The question is one of believability - of conviction that you can imagine all those primeval rituals and games, or someone literally dancing themselves to death. The sheer genius of the score will always bring a tear to my eye, and does in both cases. With Stravinsky’s old recording I still however have that sense of surprise, the feeling that things might go off the rails and end differently to the last time I listened. It’s like that story of the book which never tells the same tale twice, though you can’t exactly put your finger on where the narrative alters course and brings you to a disconcertingly different place each time. Boulez has more that feel of an established pattern, of a tradition which has grown around the music, teaching us what to expect, giving us that ‘wow’ factor but never quite tearing out our own inner fears and shaking them in front of our terrified faces in a fist full of mud and sweat. It’s a personal thing I suspect, and this is still a tremendous performance and very much worth having, but the elation at having survived beyond the end of the performance is still very much Stravinsky’s own reward to us.

-- Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Pétrouchka by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 03/1991 
Venue:  Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland 
Length: 34 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Notes: Ver: 1911
Composition written: Switzerland (1911).
Composition revised: 1947. 
Le sacre du printemps by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1913 
Date of Recording: 03/1991 
Venue:  Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland 
Length: 33 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Switzerland (1911 - 1913).
Composition revised: USA (1943). 

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