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Boulez Conducts Stravinsky

Boulez,Pierre
Release Date: 04/10/2012 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001660502   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Igor StravinskyAlban BergHugo Wolf
Performer:  Christopher HanulikFranklin CohenDavid McGillMichael Sachs,   ... 
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony OrchestraCleveland OrchestraCleveland Orchestra Chorus,   ... 
Number of Discs: 6 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Reviews from some of the original recordings that make up this set:

Firebird, Fireworks, Etudes

Boulez’s readings of the last decade are often warmer, more relaxed than his early ones, and broadly these performances fit that mould. Just occasionally, though, I felt this complete Firebird to be a bit icy; but Boulez could never be as Romantic as, say, Rattle on EMI. For almost half an hour, indeed, I needed to turn up the volume more than usual, the general natural balance, using the 4D Audio Recording system, occasionally seeming on the recessed side. But then the Magic Carillon and the appearance of Kashchei’s monsters suddenly overwhelmed me: a splendid moment, not least because it both
Read more surprises and seems perfectly integrated.

From a magical and lugubrious ‘Introduction’ to a ferocious ‘Infernal Dance’, this performance in fact offers many insights. The playing is marvellous, with splendidly characterised and well polished solos, incisive ensemble attack, and a sustained brilliance without brashness. And although even Boulez can’t disguise the essentially episodic nature of this work, he manages to bring a typically thoughtful, but never too obviously calculated sense of tension to the balance of sections; there’s a strong overall feeling about the structure, as well as expert attention to timbral light and shade.

This almost ideal combination of remarkable orchestral virtuosity and intelligent, fresh thinking makes the ‘fillers’ feel really substantial too. Richard Taruskin’s scholarly but highly readable booklet notes provide a significant gloss on, for example, The Firebird ’s debt to the Russian tradition. Highly recommended.

Performance: 5 (out of 5), Sound: 4 (out of 5)


-- Keith Potter, BBC Music Magazine

Symphonies

The Symphony in Three Movements brings a violent approach from Boulez, with the Berliners relishing the jazzy outbursts of the outer movements and the warmth of the central slow movement. An unexpected but revelatory disc. The results are refined rather than biting in the Symphony of Psalms and Wind Symphonies, where Boulez's restraint combined with beautifully molded ensemble gives way to dramatic power only at key climaxes. The poignancy of the Wind Symphonies is reinforced, and the beauty of the Symphony of Psalms culminates in a glowing account of the final apotheosis, one of Stravinsky's most sublime inspirations.

-- Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music, 2008 Edition

Pétrouchka, Le Sacre Du Printemps

"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 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."

-- Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International

Songs

This is one of many Stravinsky recordings first issued in his centenary year, and its remastered reappearance is most welcome. The majority of the songs included come from the two phases of Stravinsky's life which Boulez has always found most sympathetic—the early 'nationalism' and the late serialism. The performances are in general exemplary in their precision and avoidance of sentimentality.

Phyllis Bryn-Julson brings a particularly attractive astringency to the sets of folklike or nursery songs where it would be all too easy for the singer to adopt an archly over-emphatic manner, and she blends well with the instruments, notably in the ravishing textures of the Three Japanese lyrics. Ann Murray is no less idiomatic in the Cat's Cradle Songs and, later, in the very different world of the Shakespeare settings. Even the smallest of these pieces has some telling instrumental detail, revealing how important such collections were to Stravinsky, especially in the years after The Rite of Spring, as a means of refining his still evolving musical language.

John Shirley-Quirk's comical gruffness is perfect for the Pribaoutki, and both he and Robert Tear manage the tricky contours of the later pieces (Elegy for J.F.K., In memoriam Dylan Thomas) in fine style. Only in Paracha's song from Mavra does Boulez set too brisk a tempo: at the other extreme, the late Wolf arrangements are if anything too long drawn out. This is a valuable collection of, on the whole, excellent recordings, even though Robert Tear's voice sounds rather too set apart from the instruments in the Dylan Thomas piece.

-- A.W., Gramophone
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Works on This Recording

1.
Firebird by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
Date of Recording: 12/1992 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 46 Minutes 9 Secs. 
2.
Fireworks, Op. 4 by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; Russia 
Date of Recording: 12/1992 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 3 Minutes 54 Secs. 
3.
Etudes (4) for Orchestra by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928/1952; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1992 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 9 Minutes 36 Secs. 
4.
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. 
5.
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. 
6.
Chant du rossignol by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio 
Length: 20 Minutes 32 Secs. 
7.
Scherzo fantastique, Op. 3 by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1908; Russia 
Date of Recording: 11/1994 
Venue:  Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio 
Length: 11 Minutes 28 Secs. 
8.
Le roi des étoiles by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1912; Russia 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio 
Length: 5 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: French 
9.
L'histoire du soldat: Suite for Chamber Ensemble by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Christopher Hanulik (Double Bass), Franklin Cohen (Clarinet), David McGill (Bassoon),
Michael Sachs (Cornet), James DeSano (Trombone), Richard Weiner (Percussion),
William Preucil (Violin)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio 
Length: 26 Minutes 57 Secs. 
10.
Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930/1948; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Germany 
Length: 19 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
11.
Symphony in Three Movements by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942-1945; USA 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Germany 
Length: 22 Minutes 39 Secs. 
12.
Symphonies of Wind Instruments by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Germany 
Length: 9 Minutes 16 Secs. 
13.
Concerto in E flat major "Dumbarton Oaks" by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1981 
Venue:  Georges Pompidou Center, IRCAM, Paris 
Length: 15 Minutes 19 Secs. 
14.
Instrumental Miniatures (8) by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962; USA 
Date of Recording: 11/1980 
Venue:  Georges Pompidou Center, IRCAM, Paris 
Length: 7 Minutes 18 Secs. 
15.
Ebony Concerto by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Michel Arrignon (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
Date of Recording: 12/1981 
Venue:  Georges Pompidou Center, IRCAM, Paris 
Length: 8 Minutes 55 Secs. 
16.
Pieces (3) for Clarinet solo by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; Switzerland 
17.
Pastorale for Soprano, Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet and Bassoon by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Phyllis Bryn-Julson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; France 
18.
Epitaphium by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; USA 
19.
Elégie for Viola solo by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Gérard Caussé (Viola)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
20.
Double Canon for String Quartet by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; USA 
21.
Concertino for String Quartet by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; France 
22.
Variations for Orchestra "Aldous Huxley in memoriam" by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Phyllis Bryn-Julson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1963-1964; USA 
23.
Three Songs from William Shakespeare by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Ann Murray (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; USA 
24.
Russian Songs (4) by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Phyllis Bryn-Julson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1919; Switzerland 
25.
Pribaoutki by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Baritone)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; Switzerland 
26.
Poems (2) of Konstantin Bal'mont by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Phyllis Bryn-Julson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911/1954; Russia 
27.
Poèmes (2) de Paul Verlaine, Op. 9 by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Baritone)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910/1951; Russia 
28.
Little Songs (3) "Recollections of my childhood" by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Phyllis Bryn-Julson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906/1913; Russia 
29.
Japanese Lyrics (3) by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Phyllis Bryn-Julson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1913; Switzerland 
30.
Elegy for JFK by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Baritone)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; USA 
31.
Spanisches Liederbuch: no 9, Herr, was trägt der Boden hier by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Ann Murray (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Vienna, Austria 
32.
Spanisches Liederbuch: no 10, Wunden trägst du, mein Geliebter by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Ann Murray (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Vienna, Austria 
33.
Cat's Cradle Songs (4) by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Phyllis Bryn-Julson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1916; Switzerland 
34.
In memoriam Dylan Thomas by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Robert Tear (Tenor)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; USA 

Sound Samples

The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Introduction
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Kashchei's enchanted garden
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Appearance of the Firebird pursued by Ivan Tsarevich
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Dance of the Firebird
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Ivan Tsarevich captures the Firebird
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Supplication of the Firebird
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Game of the Princesses with the golden apples
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Sudden appearance of Ivan Tsarevich
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Round dance of the Princesses
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Daybreak
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Magic carillon, appearance of Kashchei's guardian monsters and capture of Ivan Tsarevich
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Dance of Kashchei's retinue under the spell of the Firebird
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Infernal dance of all Kashchei's subject's
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Lullaby of the Firebird
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Ballet (1910): Collapse of Kashchei's palace and dissolution of all enchantments - Reanimation of the petrified prisoners - General rejoicing
Fireworks
4 Etudes for Orchestra: Danse
4 Etudes for Orchestra: Excentrique
4 Etudes for Orchestra: Cantique
4 Etudes for Orchestra: Madrid
Petrouchka / Scene 1: First tableau
Petrouchka / Scene 2: Second tableau
Petrouchka / Scene 3: Third tableau
Petrouchka / Scene 4: Fourth tableau
Le Sacre du Printemps: Part 1: L'Adoration de la Terre
Le Sacre du Printemps: Part 2: Le Sacrifice

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 The Best of the Best May 16, 2012 By r. corrado (virginia beach, VA) See All My Reviews "Stravinsky and Boulez do wonders for a recording. A conductor who is so in tune with this Genius Composer. You can't find any better than it gets when this collaboration is made. Just buy it. R Corrado" Report Abuse
 Boulez is a fine conductor. DGG is back on top. May 16, 2012 By Michael McLean (Arden, NC) See All My Reviews "My father was a rabid lover of fine music. At age 71, I look back on a lifetime of listening for pleasure, not as a scholar. I purchased this set because I felt that it would be a good investment in satisfaction, both for musical interpretation, and in the audiophile aspect of superb recorded sound. Over many years, I have marched from the “who is Boulez” level, to my present opinion that he is a very elegant and effective conductor indeed. Over the years I have purchased Deutsche Grammophon recordings from 1955 through 1983, the dawn of the CD. During the 1960’s I considered DGG recordings the finest available. Early DGG CD releases tended to suffer more then most from the dreaded digital harshness (more like caulk then cheese) that, in my opinion, was recording technique, as opposed to a limitation in the CD digital format. Since about 2007, I have been buying some new DGG additions to my 5,000-album (78, LP, and CD) collection. I have been most impressed. They seem to have made a total turnaround, and their new releases seem to have really superb sound quality. What I have heard of this set is typical. I have been a Stravinsky fan ever since the days of the Decca/London Ansermet performance on 78 RPM of Petrouchka, and, on LP, Le Sacre du prentemps: I swooned over Disney’s Fantasia with the dinosaurs, and the Mercury MG50030 Living Presence LP by Dorati, which was a hi-fi landmark in 1953. In 1950, at the age of 10, I shook hands with Monteux, who conducted the tomato pelted premier of Sacre in Paris. I have stated that I am not a scholar. This means that like a child I overeat my favorites, and ignore the rest of the buffet. Most of the items on this fine set are things that I have not gotten around to giving a listen. However, when it comes to Firebird, Sacre, and Petrouchka, I have 58 years of passionate appreciation behind me. My favorite Petrouchka before I heard this was the wonderfully energetic Recardo Muti performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra on EMI CD. When I listened to this Boulez performance, it was so beautifully polished, and with such fine natural sonic perspective, that I felt like I was tasting fine French cooking instead of red hot sausages. My favorite Firebird before I heard this was the Dorati Detroit Symphony Decca/London CD. This is a fine job, but this Boulez has more transparent sound, beautiful dynamics, and a more revealing interpretation. My favorite Le Sacre du prentemps was stuck in the mud with the old Dorati mono Mercury LP, in spite of having at least 10 other recording of the work. This Boulez stood out for me as the best I have heard yet, again with a great performance and stunning recorded sound. That is all I have listened to so far, so that is all I have to say." Report Abuse
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