Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps [Hybrid SACD]

Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps [Hybrid SACD]

5.0 2
by Esa-Pekka Salonen
Since its opening in 2003 as the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Walt Disney Concert Hall has been the most-discussed work of architecture in the music world, both for its striking design by Frank Gehry and for its bold acoustics. Listeners who haven't yet made the pilgrimage to L.A. can at least experience the latter feature through this live recording,


Since its opening in 2003 as the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Walt Disney Concert Hall has been the most-discussed work of architecture in the music world, both for its striking design by Frank Gehry and for its bold acoustics. Listeners who haven't yet made the pilgrimage to L.A. can at least experience the latter feature through this live recording, the first from Disney Hall to be released. Music director Esa-Pekka Salonen chose a trio of raw and vital sonic spectaculars to show off his orchestra and its new venue, and in both respects he succeeds brilliantly. There's some irony that despite being watered down for Disney's Fantasia, both Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring can now be heard unfolding in all their primeval glory in Disney Hall. When it's performed in its original version, Mussorgsky's score is full of surprises, since the revision of the work published by Rimsky-Korsakov is still so much more familiar, thanks in part to its use in Disney's film. The rougher shards of Mussorgsky's original are unsettling but also refreshing -- much like the propulsive forms of Gehry's architecture. It's amusing to imagine what Disney might have made of Bartók's Miraculous Mandarin, with its sordid tale of prostitution, theft, and murder. As it's even less suitable for family entertainment than The Rite of Spring (in which Fantasia substituted dinosaur battles for ritual human sacrifice), Disney wouldn't have touched it with a ten-foot pole. But Bartók's fiery music fills Disney Hall with edge-of-your-seat thrills. Still, the Stravinsky is the pièce de résistance, with the hall's acoustics and Salonen's attention to detail combining to produce a Rite that's as sensuous as it is volatile. Whether or not the L.A. Philharmonic intended this release as an enticement for music lovers to visit Disney Hall, they could hardly have issued a more persuasive invitation.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
This Deutsche Grammophon disc, Le Sacre du Printemps -- Los Angeles Philharmonic, is issued to celebrate the opening of L.A.'s new concert venue, the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The Disney is one of the most controversial structures to go into in the ground in the twenty first century, a twisted, semi-abstract edifice made of polished stainless steel and occupying 293,000 square feet with a seven-level parking lot below. Critics of the Frank Gehry-devised concert hall cum artwork ridiculed it as maximum ugly and overly expensive, and city leaders wondered if the inordinately bright building would need to be sandblasted so as not to blind pilots of commercial jet liners passing overhead. Although Esa-Pekka Salonen has made a number of successful recordings with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for both Sony Classical and Deutsche Grammophon, they have either recorded them out of town or in UCLA's Royce Hall, as the other large concert venue in town, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, simply isn't a good venue for recording an orchestra. Disney Concert Hall was, in part, designed with that in mind. Hopefully Deutsche Grammophon hasn't waited a bit too long to bring out this Super Audio CD of the first commercial recording made at the Disney. Comparatively, a 1964 RCA Victor LP commemorating the Chandler's opening appeared within mere days of the main event, and in some quarters is valued as a keepsake. Nevertheless, the prognosis is good for the sound of Disney Concert Hall as a venue for recording the Los Angeles Philharmonic at home. The recording of Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" is truly wonderful stuff, as every measure of Mussorgsky's clotted and knotty but fearlessly innovative original orchestration is heard here in glassine detail. Percussion strokes are precise, the rendering of brass and wind has an almost photographic quality, and strings are heard as a wave of sound rather than as a mushy tangle of wire. This is one of the most stunningly realistic recordings ever made of a symphony orchestra. The Bartók "Miraculous Mandarin" in its concert version is new to Salonen's recorded repertoire, and while it is a good performance, it's a little cold, which reflects Salonen's usual M.O. with Bartók. In this rendering of Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du printemps," Salonen is far more individual in his handling of the score and its effects, and the sound of Disney Hall almost seems to project "Le sacre"'s extremes. Salonen delivers a performance that is far from the pristine, note-perfect recording by Pierre Boulez, closer in spirit to that of Igor Markevitch. Salonen's rendering of the Stravinsky may not please all who hear it, but this is one of only a few orchestral discs in perhaps 25 years that is an imperative just by virtue of the sonic reproduction of the orchestra alone. Le Sacre du Printemps -- Los Angeles Philharmonic is provocative and intense and will give any decent home system a serious workout; like Disney Hall itself, it is a miracle of engineering.
Time Out New York - Stephen Francis Vasta
[Salonen's] technically assured, stylistically acute leadership shines in a program that provides musical significance as well as orchestral and sonic display.
San Jose Mercury News - Richard Scheinin
Throbbing, mysterious, whooping and getting down with Stravinsky. A super-exciting performance.

Product Details

Release Date:
Deutsche Grammophon


  1. St. John's Night on the Bare Mountain (Ivanova noch' na Lisoy gore), symphonic poem for orchestra  - Modest Mussorgsky  - Esa-Pekka Salonen  - Merle Kersten  -  Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
  2. The Miraculous Mandarin, suite for orchestra, Sz. 73a, BB 82 (Op. 19)  - Béla Bartók  - Esa-Pekka Salonen  - Merle Kersten  -  Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
  3. Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), ballet in 2 parts for orchestra  - Igor Stravinsky  - Esa-Pekka Salonen  - Merle Kersten  -  Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra

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Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps [Hybrid SACD] 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Esa-Pekka Salonen has become one of the foremost conductors of Stravinsky's masterpiece 'Le Sacre du printemps' and finally there is a recording to match the brilliance he reveals in this score. This astonishingly superb CD is the first recording made in the perfect acoustic of the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. While no recording can capture the otherworldly magic of sitting in this hall surrounded with the most perfect sonics ever granted an orchestra by an architect, an acoustician, and the power of the premiere orchestra under the baton of Salonen, this recording comes as close as possible! Salonen opens this 'concert' with Mussorgsky's original 'Night on Bald Mountain' - a sophisticated work not at all like the Disney Fantasia version. For those who are hearing this work in its original form for the first time the power of the effect may seem diminished, but repeated exposure allows hearing the inner lines of this very well orchestrated work. What follows is Bela Bartok's 'The Miraculous Mandarin', a work too seldom performed. It is rich in echoes of 'Bluebeard's Castle' and is a moody masterwork of extremes in dynamics and in tempi. The sonics from the hall capture all of the delicacies (solo desk contributions are amazingly clear) and satire of this rich score. But of course the raison d'etre for this first recording session is the Le Sacre du printemps and here Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic give the most sensitively detailed, propulsive, earthy, exhilarating performance on record. Le Sacre comes from within the brilliant mind and soul of Esa-Pekka Salonen and what he achieves is uncanny and right. The piece is now so familiar that comparisons come quickly, but few will be able to resist applauding not only the extraordinary sound here but also the profoundly moving performance. Salonen gives it his all and the orchestra 'sounds' like the premiere ensemble it has become. This is a landmark recording that belongs in the library of every lover of classical music. It is breathtaking! Grady Harp
Guest More than 1 year ago
Salonen and his L.A. Phil excel on this disc: There is fire, there is rythm, but never pushed towards the mere effect of it. It's more von Karajan than Bernstein, more disciplined than self indulgend, especially the "Sacre". Here though, Salonen's polish shines in depth, analysis and sheer beauty of detail. In my opinion, the L.A. Phil have grown to be the best orchestra in the world, mirroring the famous Berlin Philharmonic. And now they have a hall that that's as good as any hall in Europe! Highly recommended.