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Stravinsky: Rite Of Spring, Petrushka, Firebird, Appollo


Release Date: 07/22/2008 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 6876   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Lovers of rhythm and orchestral passion will not be disappointed.

Stravinsky’s ballet scores show the composer at his remarkable best with an astonishing range of music: there is the lush Romanticism of The Firebird, the surprising neo-Classicism of Apollo and the ever-surprising power of The Rite. At a bargain price this set collects his four best known ballet scores together in performances that could scarcely be bettered.

The Rite poses a problem to us in the 21st Century, one nearly as acute as that faced by its audience at the famous premiere. For this work, which is now securely part of the classical canon, how do we keep it fresh and shocking in the way that Stravinsky intended it to be? Rattle’s
Read more answer is by scrupulous attention to detail. Gergiev surrounds this score in a red mist: Rattle delineates every single chord and note in a way that is as alarming as it is revelatory. The temptation for too many conductors is to charge through the score relentlessly. Not Rattle: the clarity with which he treats the score leads constantly to reappraisals of this extraordinary work. Listen to The Glorification of the Chosen One and you will hear striking detail in the midst of the pandemonium. Rattle actually slows down the tempo for the final Sacrificial Dance but, rather than turning it into a plod, it increases the savagery of the scene by a shockingly believable sense of the victim dancing herself to death. If the detail is what interests you about the Rite then this is the recording to go for.

Detail is also a striking feature of Petrushka, though here there is more a driving sense of narrative. The Shrovetide Fair has a raw, peculiarly Russian feel about it, while the scenes in the puppets’ rooms are lively and exciting. The characters are well drawn too: listening to the Dance of the Ballerina, we wonder how Petrushka could ever fall for such a heard-hearted beast! The various dances in the fourth part are virtuosic and well contrasted, and the appearance of Petrushka’s ghost at the end casts a perceptible chill over the final bars.

Rattle’s Firebird is unashamedly Romantic. He revels in the colour of the opening, depicting Kashchey’s garden in its seductive attraction but simultaneously its danger: the noise (not music) made by the strings as Ivan enters the garden is genuinely chilling. The Firebird itself is a light, filigree creature in the CBSO’s hands with lively instrumental colour for both its capture and its lovely supplication scene. The darker elements are here too, with Kashchey, his palace and his creatures painted with a sinister gloom. The narrative thrust remains, though, with everything building towards the apotheosis of the finale. This moment, one of the most purely beautiful that Stravinsky ever wrote, builds like a tidal wave to a joyous climax.

Moving from this to the neo-classical world of Apollo is something of a shock! Stravinsky’s conscious adoption of Rococo style and, to a lesser extent, instrumentation produces a colour and context that we don’t expect from him. It works well on its own terms, though. The warm sound produced by the CBSO strings is fitting to describe the Olympian scene. Apollo’s birth unfolds slowly, and his relationship with the three Muses is delicately drawn in the contrasting variations which are disarmingly tender.

This is the best way I can think of to survey Stravinsky’s remarkable achievements in the world of ballet, with top-class playing and impeccable recorded sound. With Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky remains the greatest ballet composer of all and certainly the greatest of the 20th Century. Lovers of rhythm, instrumentation and sheer orchestral passion will not be disappointed.

-- Simon Thompson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Le sacre du printemps by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1913 
Notes: Composition written: Switzerland (1911 - 1913).
Composition revised: USA (1943). 
2.
Pétrouchka by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Switzerland 
Notes: Composition written: Switzerland (1911).
Composition revised: 1947. 
3.
Firebird by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
Notes: Composition written: Russia (1909 - 1910). 
4.
Apollon musagète by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Notes: Composition written: France (1927 - 1928). 

Sound Samples

The Rite of Spring, 'Le sacre du printemps' (1947 revised version), PART 1: L'adoration de la terre: Introduction - Les augures printaniers - Danse des adolescentes - Jeu de rapt
The Rite of Spring, 'Le sacre du printemps' (1947 revised version), PART 1: L'adoration de la terre: Rond printanières - Jeux des cités rivales - Cortège de sage
The Rite of Spring, 'Le sacre du printemps' (1947 revised version), PART 1: L'adoration de la terre: Le sage - Danse de la terre
The Rite of Spring, 'Le sacre du printemps' (1947 revised version), PART 2: Le sacrifice: Introduction
The Rite of Spring, 'Le sacre du printemps' (1947 revised version), PART 2: Le sacrifice: Cercles mystérieux des adolescentes
The Rite of Spring, 'Le sacre du printemps' (1947 revised version), PART 2: Le sacrifice: Glorification de l'élue - Évocation des ancêtres - Action rituelle des aancêtres
The Rite of Spring, 'Le sacre du printemps' (1947 revised version), PART 2: Le sacrifice: Danse sacrale (l'élue)
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Première tableau: Fête populaire de la semaine grasse
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Première tableau: Le tour de passe-passe - Danse russe
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Deuxième tableau: Chez Petrushka
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Troisième tableau: Chez le maure - Danse de la ballerine
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Troisième tableau: Valse ( La ballerine et la maure)
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Quartième tableau: Fête populaire de la semaine grasse
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Quartième tableau: Danse des nounous
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Quartième tableau: Paysan et l'ours
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Quartième tableau: Bohémien et marchand malhonnête
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Quartième tableau: Danse des cochers et des palefreniers
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Quartième tableau: Les déguisés
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Quartième tableau: Le rixe: La maure et Petrushka
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Quartième tableau: Mort de Petrushka
Petrushka - Scènes burlesques en quatre tableaux, Quartième tableau: Polic et 'enchanteur - Vocifération du double de Petrushka
The Firebird (1910 version): Introduction
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Kashchei's Enchanted Garden
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Appearance of the Firebird pursued by Ivan Tsarevich
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Dance of the Firebird
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Ivan Tsarevich captures the Firebird
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Supplications of the Firebird
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Appearance of the thirteen enchanted princesses
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: The princesses' game with the golden apples (Scherzo)
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Sudden appearance of Ivan Tsarevich
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: The princesses' Khorovod (Round Dance)
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Daybreak
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Magic carillon, appearance of Kashchei's guardian monsters and capture of Ivan Tsarevich
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Arrival of Kashchei the immortal
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Kashchei's dialogue with Ivan Tsarevich
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Intercession of the princesses
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Appearance of the Firebird
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Dance of Kashchei's retinue under the Firebird's spell
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Infernal dance of all Kashchei's subjects
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Lullaby
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Kashchei's awakening
The Firebird (1910 version), 1st Tableau: Complete darkness
The Firebird (1910 version), 2nd Tableau: Disappearance of the palace and dissolution of Kashchei's enchantments; animation of the petrified warriors. General thanksgiving
Apollo - Ballet en deux tableaux (1947 revised version), Premier tableau (prologue): Naissance d'Apollon
Apollo - Ballet en deux tableaux (1947 revised version), Deuxième tableaux: Variation d'Apollon (Apollon et les Muses)
Apollo - Ballet en deux tableaux (1947 revised version), Deuxième tableaux: Pas d'action (Apollon et les trois Muses: Calliope, Polymnie, et Terpsichore)
Apollo - Ballet en deux tableaux (1947 revised version), Deuxième tableaux: Variation de Calliope (l'Alexandrin)
Apollo - Ballet en deux tableaux (1947 revised version), Deuxième tableaux: Variation de Polymnie
Apollo - Ballet en deux tableaux (1947 revised version), Deuxième tableaux: Variation de Terpsichore
Apollo - Ballet en deux tableaux (1947 revised version), Deuxième tableaux: Variation d'Apollon
Apollo - Ballet en deux tableaux (1947 revised version), Deuxième tableaux: Pas de deux (Apollon et Terpsichore)
Apollo - Ballet en deux tableaux (1947 revised version), Deuxième tableaux: Coda (Apollon et les Muses)
Apollo - Ballet en deux tableaux (1947 revised version), Deuxième tableaux: Apothéose

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 A Fine 2 CD Set of the Stravisky Ballets September 1, 2012 By Richard F. Buckley (Jefferson Hills, PA) See All My Reviews "For my taste, Stravinsky is by far the most outstanding 20th century composer. His version of "modern music" is one of the few that appeals to me greatly. On this disc his Rite of Spring is superb - much better and more exciting than other versions I have heard. Petrushka and Firebird are outstanding, and Apollo is quite good as well. My only reservation with this 2-CD set is that the sound was a little annoying. As it was recorded, some sections are so quiet that you have to turn the speakers way up to hear them at all. However, if you can get past that little quirk, you will be very pleased with the quality of this set. One other spectacular thing about this set is its ridiculously low price! It is a great value and will bring you hours of musical pleasure." Report Abuse
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