In the space of three ballets, a previously unknown Russian composer revolutionized the music of his time. With The Firebird and Petrushka, respectively fairytale and folktale, and of course The Rite of Spring, a telluric invocation with it's insanely innovative harmonies and rhythms, Stravinsky dynamized the Late Romantic orchestra, taking it to literally unheard-of places. Among the very first musicians to perform these works on the instruments that witnessed their birth, François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles inaugurated a far-reaching rediscovery of these seminal pieces, giving today's listeners an opportunity to appreciate to the full their audacity and their harsh, savage power.
This is a labour of love for conductor François-Xavier Roth. His research into the famous Ballet Russes shows that not only was that organisation they involved intimitely with Stravinsky's three famous ballets recorded here (Le sacre du printemps, Petrushka and L'oiseau de feu), but the Ballets Russes also enjoyed a wide repertoire. To hear some of that repertoire here - in the form of Les Orientales, which contains music by Glazunov, Christian Sinding, Anton Arensky and Grieg - and all performed with a period authenticity (for Stravinsky!) is nothing short of revelatory. Roth conducts his group Les Siècles with gusto but also with the skill of a master restorer - the thickest textures in Le sacre and Petrushka become crystal clear; his rhythms are lighter than many listeners will be used to, taking us back to the dance while adding an extra layer of buoyancy to the performances.
– Classical Music Explorer (Colin Clarke)