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Stravinsky: Petrouchka, Scenes De Ballet / Haitink, Berlin Philharmonic

Release Date: 04/22/2010 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 422415   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 52 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Philips recording favours close-ups rather than long-shots on this, Haitink's second visit to the Shrovetide Fair (his 1974 version was reissued and reviewed 6/87). It won't be to everyone's taste—not everyone wants to be this close to the inner-workings of Stravinsky's 1911 scoring—but in the main I'd say it was a blessing in disguise, making for vivid inner detail and tight rhythms in the boisterous fairground scenes and, still more beneficially, a chamber-like intimacy backstage. Some may find the results a little on the clinical side with too 'enclosed', too synthetic an ambience for the open-air events, but again there's no denying the benefits in terms of clarity and tonal presence. One really feels contact with the players—the Read more fizzing string cascades and rosiny ostinatos of the opening pages (though I'm still wondering what became of the primary woodwind lines at approximately 0'35" after the start), the incisive piano, the tumbling xylophone and gawky bassoon detail in the Russian dance. Haitink deals spaciously and lovingly with detailing in the inner tableaux: it's a pallid, strangely disembodied sound he encourages from his solo piano in Petrushka's cell, and as the hapless puppet's sorrow is darkly voiced by the solo clarinet, the freedom he is afforded gives the phrasing a properly improvisatory feel. Nothing less would do for these marvellously resourceful Berlin wind soloists—characters, every one of them. I can't recall an oilier or more corpulent Blackamoor.

As I've implied, the 1911 scoring was never clearer. The final scene comes quickly into focus with all those earthy speciality dances leaping right off the page: the performing bear, for instance, is absolutely splendid—so much made of the grisly low horns, off the beat against lumbering basses and an especially acerbic E flat clarinet. And again, there's a telling moment of 'close-up' detail as the showman holds up the lifeless Petrushka and the solo flute's barely-voiced pianissimo is caught by the microphone like one last breath escaping from the puppet's body. A Petrushka to consider, then, alongside Dutoit (Decca) and Abbado (DG) for the 1911 version, or Rattle (EMI) in the 1947 revision.

Like Bernstein (in his similarly coupled Israel Philharmonic recording on DG, 7/85—nla), Haitink has decided that Stravinksy's Scénes de ballet—his one and only encounter with Broadway—was a fitting side-show to set alongside the main attraction. And he responds eagerly to this lively, off-beat curio, Stravinsky's neo-classical ballet aspirations wilfully soured with a pinch of burlesque. I particularly like the Pas de deux with its brassily nostalgic trumpet tune: Tchaikovskian grandiosity with the common touch—a faded opulence. I can just imagine what Robert Russell Bennett might have made of the orchestrations if Billy Rose had had his way, though I doubt very much that the Berlin Philharmonic would be partaking. They do so here with great aplomb.

-- Gramophone [10/1991]
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Works on This Recording

Pétrouchka by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 1988 
Scènes de ballet by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
Date of Recording: 1989 

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