Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring / Scriabin: The Poem of Ecstasy

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring / Scriabin: The Poem of Ecstasy

by Valery Gergiev
     
 

One of the hallmarks of Valery Gergiev's conducting is his nervous energy, and this quality pays off handsomely in The Rite of Spring. Once a fearsome test of an orchestra's virtuosity and musicianship, Stravinsky's ballet score is now standard fare. This is both good and bad, as some ensembles now make the music sound too…  See more details below

Overview

One of the hallmarks of Valery Gergiev's conducting is his nervous energy, and this quality pays off handsomely in The Rite of Spring. Once a fearsome test of an orchestra's virtuosity and musicianship, Stravinsky's ballet score is now standard fare. This is both good and bad, as some ensembles now make the music sound too easy. The Kirov Orchestra certainly has no problems bounding over the score's technical hurdles, but it is Gergiev's kinetic power that sets this performance apart. It is not a matter of speed, however, merely that he keeps the rhythms absolutely taut. In "Rondes printainères" (Spring Rounds), for example, the syncopations seem edgy, providing a sense of uneasy expectation. And Gergiev keeps the energy flowing, creating a huge arc that leads to the cathartic eruption at the end of Part One. If you want to get a sense of how weird the Rite of Spring sounded to its first audiences, this recording probably comes closer than any since Riccardo Muti's hard-driven version from 1978 with the Philadelphia. Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy is a terrific companion, providing an ecstatically amorous antidote to the savagery of the Stravinsky. Again, Gergiev's restlessness gives us a new perspective. Boulez, in his recent DG recording, focused on the music's perfume -- its sensuous harmonies and opulent orchestration. Gergiev is more lustful, if less luminous, and one is quickly swept up in this Poem's frankly erotic passion. Philips's brightly lit recording leaves nothing to the imagination. Not for prudes or the faint of heart.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
There can be no doubt that Valery Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra want to incite a revolution, especially among western audiences who think they already know the Russian repertoire. These fiery performances of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and Scriabin's "Poem of Ecstasy" may go far to change the ways the pieces are performed and understood, especially since both works are delivered here with overwhelming force and persuasive confidence. If the "Rite of Spring" has become too familiar from the dreary and mutilated version used in Disney's Fantasia, or seems tame in other performances, including Stravinsky's own, then Gergiev's devastating rendition will come as a welcome alternative. This is what all the fuss was about when the audience rioted at the 1913 premiere. Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra deliver the work in all its savage splendor, with a sense that the score holds more power than anyone previously suspected. Similarly, if the "Poem of Ecstasy"'s excessive fervor and messianic outbursts have been replaced in many recordings by murky confusion and climaxes that are merely loud crashes, then this recording will set the record straight. When played with intensity and unabashed eroticism, the orchestra absolutely blazes and Scriabin's rapturous music at last achieves the delirium he intended.
Gramophone - Jonathan Swain
Probably the most extraordinary Rite of Spring to have been dreamt up and commited to disc since Stravinsky's own final (and finest) 1960 recording.... Among modern interpreters, I can't think of anyone better than Gergiev in the important dual roles of showman and shaman. So many of the score's darker workings have a striking profile here -- tubas bellowing strange moans, the bass drum sending shock waves around the performance space.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/09/2001
Label:
Philips
UPC:
0028946803523
catalogNumber:
468035
Rank:
47261

Tracks

  1. Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), ballet in 2 parts for orchestra  - Igor Stravinsky  - Valery Gergiev  -  Mariinsky (Kirov) Theater Orchestra  - Anna Barry
  2. Piano Sonata No. 5 in F sharp major ("The Poem of Ecstasy"), Op. 53  - Alexander Scriabin  - Valery Gergiev  -  Mariinsky (Kirov) Theater Orchestra  - Anna Barry

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