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Stravinsky: The Firebird, Fireworks, Etudes / Boulez, Chicago SO


Release Date: 11/09/1993 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 437850   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The playing is marvelous, with splendidly characterized solos, incisive ensemble attack, and a sustained brilliance without brashness.

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
Read more it both 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
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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. 
Notes: Composition written: Russia (1909 - 1910). 
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. 

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

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