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Stravinsky: Firebird, Rite Of Spring / Sokhiev, Toulouse Capitole Orchestra [CD & DVD]

Stravinsky / Orch National Du Capitole De Toulouse
Release Date: 03/26/2013 
Label:  Naive   Catalog #: 5192  
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Tugan Sokhiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

STRAVINSKY Le Sacre du printemps 1. The Firebird: Suite Tugan Sokhiev, cond; O Natl du Toulouse NAÏVE 5192 (CD: 54:59) and ( 1 DVD: 33:15)

This issue is unusual in several ways. First, there is a CD of Le Sacre du printemps and what is billed as The Read more Firebird but turns out to be only the 1919 Suite. There is also a second disc, a DVD of an orchestral performance of Le Sacre . All were recorded in September 2011 at La Halle aux Grains, Toulouse, but it is not clear if the DVD film of Le Sacre (September 17, 2011) is the same performance as the CD (the timings are 33:05 and 33:15, well within production variables). The elegant package is a 70-page hardcover book on heavy matte stock, filled with two dozen imaginative ink drawings by Sophie Chaussade illustrating the ballets, as well as the expected two-language program notes, bios, and an orchestra personnel list.

Let’s address the CD first. The performance of The Firebird Suite is delicate, light, and generally relaxed; even Katschei’s “Danse infernale” is more lightweight than we are accustomed to. This is obviously the choice of Tugan Sokhiev (a Russian conductor long associated with this orchestra who has been its music director since 2008), as the players demonstrate plenty of chops—solos are elegant and ensemble smooth as glass—and the string complement is a full 18/14/12/12/8. The whole is beautiful, but I miss the brilliance and excitement heard in many recordings, especially the Concertgebouw’s spectacular SACD, a musical and audiophile treat of the first magnitude. Naïve’s recorded sound mirrors the Toulouse performance: lovely but a bit distant.

All this passes muster as an interesting gloss on The Firebird , but similar characteristics of both performance and recorded sound are unacceptable in Le Sacre du printemps . Beauties there are, but the primeval drama and the orchestral blockbuster are missing, which leaves us with very little to either chew on or wallow in. As usual, the final chord is botched.

The sound is far more vivid on the DVD, and its video is superb, both in technical quality and in imaginative direction. Although I would prefer to be watching the ballet, the effects of instrumental lines are strengthened by the concentration in the faces and bodies of the players: Seeing massed horns in the raised position makes a greater impact than merely hearing them. The film is very democratic, giving seemingly every musician face time, as well as balancing shots of the conductor, zooming in on instruments, and a few overall views of the orchestra. But all this additional interest cannot camouflage an ordinary performance, and Le Sacre du printemps must never be ordinary.

Still, there is much to recommend here. This Firebird Suite is at least different from the norm, the video has interest, and check out the front cover of the booklet: If it intrigues you, you will love the many drawings inside.

FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

Le sacre du printemps by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Tugan Sokhiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1913 
Firebird by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Tugan Sokhiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Nice commemorative package May 14, 2013 By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA) See All My Reviews "May, 2013 is the centennial of the premier of Stravinsky's &quot;Rite of Spring&quot; in Paris. While the work no longer incites riots, it has become a repertoire standard, and one that can sound fresh and exotic even today. <br /> <br /> Naive marks the event with this deluxe release. The hardbound 90-page book contains a DVD of Tugan Sokhiev conducting the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulous in a live performance of the Rite. Also included is a CD with the same forces performing the &quot;Rite of Spring&quot; and Stravinsky's &quot;The Firebird.&quot; <br /> <br /> The multi-language booklet features essays about both works, and wonderful two-color illustrations by Sophie Chaussade. Yes, these recordings are also available for download, but get the book. The illustrations and the feel of this quality print edition are worth the investment. <br /> <br /> Musically, Sokhiev and the orchestra perform admirably. The ensemble plays with energy and precision. The fast sections in the ballets are amazingly clean, and the articulation makes the music sparkle. The soloists are also first-rate, especially in the Rite of Spring. <br /> <br /> The DVD is a 48kbps/16-bit recording, which sounds great, especially through a two-channel system. Intelligent editing keeps the visuals coordinated with the music. We see the soloists when they perform, and -- more importantly -- focus on relevant parts of the orchestra when the entire ensemble's playing.. Just as the conductor's gestures can draw the listener's attention to something that otherwise might be lost in the mix in a live performance, the cameras here do the same." Report Abuse
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