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Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite, Etc / Chailly, Concertbebouw


Release Date: 05/12/1998 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 458142   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Chailly balances gracefulness with tonal substance. A super disc.

Enchantment without magic is something of a logical impossibility, which is perhaps why Mikhail Pletnev’s Firebird Suite – played as here in Stravinsky’s musically extended but texturally pared-down 1945 Suite – failed to earn the clinching accolade. It was a good performance, but Riccardo Chailly’s is far better. Points for comparison include those minuscule Pantomimes which, as with parallel passages in Ravel’s Ma mere l’oye ballet, cast a veil of star-dust across everything that surrounds them. Try the First – which links the “Firebird’s Variation” with the “Pas de deux” – and Chailly’s utterly natural pacing, allied to superb playing and the expected
Read more sonic sophistication, marks a striking contrast with the stiffer, harder and noticeably less subtle Pletnev. Illumination is everywhere – in the thistledown “Scherzo”, the “Ronde des princesses”, the “Berceuse”, a Technicolored “Danse infernale” and a brisk, incisively executed finale. The fact that Stravinsky’s revision dispensed with “half the woodwind, two of the three harps, glockenspiel and celesta from the original scoring” (I quote from Kenneth Chalmers’s excellent note) hardly constitutes the bleaching process that a less colour-sensitive performance might have allowed.

Part of the effect is due to a remarkably fine recording where clarity and tonal bloom are complementary (note the translucent glissandos 1'34'' into the Introduction and the shock of sound that leaps from the speakers as Kashchei appears), but Chailly must take the credit for laying all Stravinsky’s cards on the table rather than holding this or that detail to his chest. Everything tells, much as it does in the Scherzo fantastique – whether the euphonious winds and brass at 3'52'', the motorized repeated notes later on (8'31'' woodwinds, then strings, horns, etc.) or the ornamental swirlings that, in stylistic terms, dance us all the way from Rimsky’s Arabian Nights to the unmistakably Russian world of The Firebird.

Apollon musagete is of course something else again and Chailly takes the lyrical line, pointing without punching and allowing his excellent strings their head. The coda is jaunty, the “Apotheose” suitably mysterious and “Variation d’Apollon” features fine solo work from the orchestra’s leader Jaap van Zweden. Viable alternatives include a leaner, more ascetic reading under Salonen and Stravinsky’s eloquent stereo version but Chailly balances gracefulness with tonal substance and his engineers relate the whole story in glorious sound. A super disc.

-- Gramophone [1/1998]
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Works on This Recording

1. Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919/1945;   
Notes: Ver: 1945 
2. Apollon musagète by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Notes: Version: 1947
Composition written: France (1927 - 1928). 
3. Scherzo fantastique, Op. 3 by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1908; Russia 

Sound Samples

Scherzo Fantastique, Op.3
Apollon musagète (1947 version): 1. Birth of Apollo
Apollon musagète (1947 version): 2. Variation of Apollo (Apollo and the Muses)
Apollon musagète (1947 version): 3. Pas d'action (Apollo and the 3 Muses)
Apollon musagète (1947 version): 4. Variation of Calliope (the Alexandrine)
Apollon musagète (1947 version): 5. Variation of Polyhymnia
Apollon musagète (1947 version): 6. Variation of Terpsichore
Apollon musagète (1947 version): 7. Variation of Apollo
Apollon musagète (1947 version): 8. Pas de deux (Apollo and Terpsichore)
Apollon musagète (1947 version): 9. Coda
Apollon musagète (1947 version): 10. Apotheosis
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Suite (1945): Introduction
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Suite (1945): Prelude & Dance of the Firebird - Variations
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Suite (1945): Pantomime I
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Suite (1945): Pas de deux
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Suite (1945): Pantomime II
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Suite (1945): Scherzo: Dance of the Princesses
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Suite (1945): Pantomime III
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Suite (1945): Rondo
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Suite (1945): Infernal Dance
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Suite (1945): Lullaby
The Firebird (L'oiseau de feu) - Suite (1945): Final Hymn

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