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Stravinsky: Orchestral Works / Dutoit, Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Stravinsky / Orch Symphonique De Montreal / Dutoit
Release Date: 07/27/2010 
Label:  Newton Classics   Catalog #: 8802013   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



STRAVINSKY Le Sacre du printemps (1921 version) . Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920 version) . Petrushka (1911 version) . Le Chant du Rossignol. 4 Études. L’Oiseau de feu (1911 version) . Scherzo Fantastique. Feu d’artifice. Concerto in E?, “Dumbarton Oaks 1.” Danses Concertantes Read more class="SUPER12">1. Concerto in D 1. Apollon musagète 1 Charles Dutoit, cond; Montreal SO; 1 Montreal Sinf NEWTON 8802013 (4 CDs: 250:19)


Here is one of those sets that raises the question, are critics superfluous? It also raises the subsidiary question: Is refining your collection to critics’ preferences superfluous?


All of these are famous performances recorded between 1984 and 1994 and issued separately over the years by Decca. Being efforts by one of the greatest conductors of our age, none of them are poor, disappointing, or lacking in interest. Several are phrased more lyrically and are less rhythmically pungent than the best performances hailed by critics. I can’t say, honestly, that all are first choices, or that they represent the works exactly the way the composer envisioned them. But there’s nothing wrong with any of them, and any neophyte who happens to grab this set because it conveniently combines all three of Stravinsky’s early ballets with other major works and some interesting incidental pieces will neither be disappointed nor in a rush to replace most of them, given the current state of the economy and Newton’s most attractive price of $32 for the four-CD set.


If this performance of Sacre lacks some forward momentum, Dutoit compensates by providing a reading that is both warm and detailed—and one must consider that this is the far less common 1921 orchestration. In Petrushka, again, I found myself thinking of performances with more rhythmic backbone (my favorites, Eugene Goossens on an ancient Everest LP and David Zinman on Telarc), but there’s so much detail here I’ve never heard before: for instance, “In the Moor’s Room,” where he employs rubato on the horns’ repeated asides just a hair, which adds a sinister quality to the proceedings. The orchestral etudes are also remarkably fine, and here Dutoit changes his (and the orchestra’s) stylistic approach to match Stravinsky’s post-World War I style. I also love Dutoit’s reading of the Symphonies of Wind Instruments : It has exactly the right touch to make the music lyrical and attractive despite its pungent harmonies. Chant du Rossignol is also a fine performance, but here I prefer the famous recording by Ansermet and the Suisse Romande Orchestra.


Ansermet also comes to mind when listening to Dutoit’s Firebird. The two different performances actually complement one another. In CD 4, which starts with the “Dumbarton Oaks” concerto and concludes with Apollon musagète, Dutoit probably has much stronger competition, notably from Robert Craft as well as Stravinsky himself. When this was first issued, several critics in fact complained about Dutoit’s soft-edged approach, but I find this to be the most conventionally “Stravinskian” of the four discs. Yet again—these are individual excursions, not necessarily urtext or benchmark readings. So what? Dutoit doesn’t soften the music so much that it loses all shape or excitement, as so many modern conductors are wont to do, but he does produce an odd and interesting effect, and that is to often suspend the rhythms in such a way that you feel “caught in the moment” and are focused on the textures and colors of the music.


I recently read an article by one of the producers of Stravinsky’s Columbia recordings. He called Stravinsky one night after a session to mention that he conducted one of the works (I forget which now) much slower and with a more legato feel than in the score, and asked Stravinsky if he’d like to consider making another take. The composer said no. It was a case of “This is how I feel now,” not “This is what I felt when I wrote it.” I’m glad Stravinsky stuck to his guns, as it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that when the composer is also a performer he can, and will, make changes to his own music as time goes on and the mood hits him.


To recap: If you want the “best” Stravinsky, get Sacre by Kent Nagano or Valery Gergiev, Petrushka by Goossens or Zinman, Firebird and Chant du Rossignol by Ansermet, and the others by Craft and/or Stravinsky. Just seeking these recordings out will take some time and the money invested, though well spent, will be far more than this set. Or, if you’re a home listener who enjoys classical music and wants to explore Stravinsky in some depth without spending too much of your food money, get this set. It won’t invigorate you as much as my top recommendations, but you’ll discover so many little details in these scores that, whether you know them or not, you’ll be delighted and surprised.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Le sacre du printemps by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1913 
Date of Recording: 05/1984 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal 
Length: 16 Minutes 6 Secs. 
2.
Symphonies of Wind Instruments by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; France 
Date of Recording: 05/1984 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal 
Length: 9 Minutes 4 Secs. 
3.
Pétrouchka by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 10/1986 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal 
Length: 34 Minutes 1 Secs. 
4.
Etudes (4) for Orchestra by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928/1952; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1986 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal 
Length: 9 Minutes 2 Secs. 
5.
Firebird by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
Date of Recording: 10/1984 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal 
Length: 27 Minutes 20 Secs. 
6.
Scherzo fantastique, Op. 3 by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1908; Russia 
Date of Recording: 10/1984 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal 
Length: 12 Minutes 8 Secs. 
7.
Fireworks, Op. 4 by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; Russia 
Date of Recording: 10/1984 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal 
Length: 3 Minutes 55 Secs. 
8.
Concerto in E flat major "Dumbarton Oaks" by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal 
Length: 14 Minutes 20 Secs. 
9.
Concerto for String Orchestra in D major by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/1992 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal 
Length: 11 Minutes 31 Secs. 
10.
Apollon musagète by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 10/1992 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal 
Length: 30 Minutes 38 Secs. 
11.
Danses concertantes by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
12.
Chant du rossignol by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; Switzerland 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal 
Length: 20 Minutes 56 Secs. 

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