Today it is difficult to imagine the impact on audiences at the beginning of the 20th century of Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929) and his Ballets Russes. In celebration of the debut of the Ballets Russes in Paris in 1909, this wonderful Stravinsky evening at the Mariinsky Theatre showcases the original Nijinsky version of The Rite of Spring for the first time on DVD along with The Firebird, both conducted by Valery Gergiev. Thanks to the relentless work of Millicent Hodson, Nijinsky's original choreography has now been recreated, performed by the lead dancers and Ballet Company of the Saint Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre conducted by Valery Geriev, known the world over for his interpretation of Stravinsky's works.
The fifth recording of Tugan Sokhiev and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse on naïve is dedicated to one of the major music works on the 20th century, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, which will turn 100 years in 2013. Also featuring the brilliant piece The Firebird and offering illustrations that enhance the special atmosphere of those works, the set includes a bonus DVD with a live performance of Rite of Spring by Tugan Sokhiev and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse during the unforgettable concert that opened last season of the orchestra, considered one of the best French ensembles.
Wow, this is some disc! There are so few new major-label productions featuring today's "big" artists–and let's face it, so many of those turn out to be uninteresting–that it comes almost as a shock to note that there really can be a difference when everyone involved lives up to their reputations. Without a doubt, Esa-Pekka Salonen is a great conductor, particularly in contemporary music such as this. He recorded The Rite of Spring previously with the Philharmonia for Sony, and that was a very exciting performance, but this one has just that much more bite and savagery in the Sacrificial Dance, or at the conclusion of Part One. Indeed, the playing of the Los Angeles Philharmonic is pretty amazing throughout, with well-nigh unbelievable clarity in the polyrhythmic complexities of the Entry of the Sage, but also in the gentler washes of color that open Part Two.
Stravinsky famously dubbed the 1964 Berlin “Le sacre” a pet savage rather than a real one, blaming the tradition from which the performance came (German and unduly sostenuto) more than the performance itself for its obvious shortcomings…
By the time the work went back into the recording studio in November 1975, it was a performance of astonishing intensity. What is on the finished record is an uninterrupted final take of a reading that no longer cloys the appetite in feeds.
Richard Osborne: “Herbert von Karajan – Life in Music”