- St. John's Night on the Bare Mountain (Ivanova noch' na Lisoy gore), symphonic poem for orchestra
- The Miraculous Mandarin, suite for orchestra, Sz. 73a, BB 82 (Op. 19)
- Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), ballet in 2 parts for orchestra
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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