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Stravinsky: l'Oiseau de feu, Le Sacre du printemps / Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony

Release Date: 04/27/1999 
Label:  Rca Victor Red Seal Catalog #: 68898   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Stuart NeillStephanie Cosserat
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony OrchestraSan Francisco Symphony ChorusSan Francisco Girls Chorus,   ... 
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is one of the best recordings yet to come from the Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco Symphony partnership. Tilson Thomas has long established his credentials as an excellent Stravinsky conductor, most recently in his fine RCA album of the composer's later works entitled Stravinsky in America. Now with his own orchestra (which plays fabulously throughout), he undertakes the ever-popular Firebird and Rite of Spring ballets, and brings them off stunningly. The Firebird benefits from Tilson Thomas' uncanny sensitivity to Stravinsky's instrumental colors, like the syncopated clarinet and piano notes in the Infernal Dance, which here sound paradoxically like Copland (another of the conductor's
Read more favorite composers). We also clearly hear the glissando trombones at the end of the dance, a Ravelian-sounding passage that points up the debt of both composers to Rimsky-Korsakov.

But timbre is not the only concern of this performance: Tilson Thomas is acutely attuned to Stravinsky's rhythms, especially so in the Rite of Spring, which receives one of its most blistering performances in recent years, even upstaging Yoel Levi's with the Atlanta Symphony on Telarc. Those crucial rhythms, combined with an irresistible momentum, create a highly intense atmosphere, which the conductor sustains while paying scrupulous attention to the music's melodic and harmonic structure, making us aware of its harsh beauties as well as its raw power. Especially important is the percussion section, and Tilson Thomas has it playing full-out--listen to the tam-tam in Dance of the Earth, or the antique cymbals in Procession of the Sage.

Persephoné (1934), based on the Greek legend, dramatizes the story of the goddess of spring's descent to Hades to become the bride of Pluto. After seeing the earth caught in the grip of winter, Persephoné returns to bring spring to the land, but only once year. In addition to the choreographed music, Stravinsky includes sung text and spoken narration (all in French). This is bitterly beautiful music, as only Stravinsky can be, and Tilson Thomas and his orchestra turn in yet another masterful performance. Tenor Stuart Neill and narrator Stephanie Cosserat bring the drama to life with their incisive, vibrant renditions. RCA's recording presents a very wide and deep sound stage with plenty of detail, lacking only the extreme bass of the Telarc recording for Levi. [4/13/2002]
--Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Firebird by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
Date of Recording: 2/1998 
Venue:  Live  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA 
Length: 47 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Le sacre du printemps by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1913 
Date of Recording: 9/1996 
Venue:  Live  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA 
Length: 34 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Perséphone by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Stuart Neill (Tenor), Stephanie Cosserat (Speaker)
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus,  San Francisco Girls Chorus  ... 
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933-1934; France 
Date of Recording: 6/16/1997 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA 
Length: 47 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: French 

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