- Apollon musagète, ballet in 2 scenes for string orchestra - Igor Stravinsky - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - Simon Rattle
- Symphonies of Wind Instruments, for 23 wind instruments (1947 version) - Igor Stravinsky - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - Simon Rattle
- Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), ballet in 2 parts for orchestra - Igor Stravinsky - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - Simon Rattle
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While Igor Stravinsky's neo-classical works have retained a small but committed following, the third of his great ballets has a mystique that transcends virtually everything else he wrote and compels universal admiration. The "Symphonies of Wind Instruments" and "Apollon musagète" are enjoyable for their controlled formalism and pungent harmonies, and in many ways they are accessible because of their cool sensibility, the objectivity that Stravinsky claimed for his music after the 1920s. But the wild primitivism of "Le Sacre du printemps" is far from such calculated elegance, and its violent upheaval of conventions and rhythmic and harmonic innovations have captured imaginations ever since its riotous premiere in 1913. Because 2013 is the centennial, "Le Sacre" has received increased attention, and Simon Rattle's recording with the Berlin Philharmonic has become one of the most anticipated recordings of the year. Not that there's anything particularly novel, unorthodox, or shocking about this live concert recording that would make it stand out from other versions on CD or SACD. Rattle and Berlin are nearly perfect in evoking the work's pagan moods and spot-on in their attacks in the most metrically complex sections, and the music has the inevitability that all great performances have. However, its exactness and rightness might also suggest that the conductor is a little risk-averse. Is an assured and meticulous performance of "Le Sacre" really desirable, or is Rattle afraid to take chances and unleash the full power of the orchestra? Fans of the piece may miss the propulsion of Fischer, the brutality of Gergiev, the explosiveness of Litton, or the frenzy of Sokhiev, or wish there were more surprises to show off the work's many facets. But Rattle's prudence may have made this a standard, even classic, reading that listeners will think about and enjoy for years, after more sensational or provocative interpretations have receded from memory. Make no mistake, there is no perfect recording of "Le Sacre du printemps," but this one is fairly close to textbook.