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Thread: Best recording of Le Sacre du Printemps?

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Default Best recording of Le Sacre du Printemps?

    Starvinky's Le Sacre is an oft-recorded work, but which of the myriad recordings is "the best," if there is such a thing?

    What are your favorites?

    For me, it's a tos up between Geriev/Kirov and Tlson-Thomas/San Francisco.

    No, I have not heard every recording extant, but the two records I've already mentioned seem to sit well with me. They have savagenes, yet clarity, which is important for this work.

    Smoothed out recordings of the Le Sacre (Boulez/Cleaveland come to mind) just doesn't work.How can you depict human sacrifice with classical gloss and sensibility?

    Also, I feel many recordings are "dishonest" by muting/restraining the bass drum. Come on, have you ever heard this piece live? The bass drum should be shattering and rise above the orchestra, not get buried behind the strings. I do not know why some recordings (Janssons/Oslo, for example) do this.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I have heard great things of MTT's recording with SFSO, as well as of Bernstein with NYPO. However, the only recordings that I've really heard of this work are the Boulez/Cleveland (which was very clean and very intense, just not "savage" enough as Tapkaara pointed out) and Mehta/NYPO (a very good reading in my opinion, though I believe it's out of print these days).
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Starvinky's Le Sacre is an oft-recorded work, but which of the myriad recordings is "the best," if there is such a thing?

    What are your favorites?

    For me, it's a tos up between Geriev/Kirov and Tlson-Thomas/San Francisco.

    No, I have not heard every recording extant, but the two records I've already mentioned seem to sit well with me. They have savagenes, yet clarity, which is important for this work.

    Smoothed out recordings of the Le Sacre (Boulez/Cleaveland come to mind) just doesn't work.How can you depict human sacrifice with classical gloss and sensibility?

    Also, I feel many recordings are "dishonest" by muting/restraining the bass drum. Come on, have you ever heard this piece live? The bass drum should be shattering and rise above the orchestra, not get buried behind the strings. I do not know why some recordings (Janssons/Oslo, for example) do this.
    If you like the bass drums to really be felt, you can't go wrong with Esa-Pekka Salonen's with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. That recording really hit the spot when it comes to the bass drums.

    Of course, Le Sacre does not get as definitive as when the composer himself conducted it. The recording of Stravinsky with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra is a must for the Sacre listener.
    PetrB likes this.

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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikenike View Post
    Of course, Le Sacre does not get as definitive as when the composer himself conducted it. The recording of Stravinsky with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra is a must for the Sacre listener.
    What he said.

    At home, I have Solti/Concertgebouw, and my wife has Karajan/Berlin-- it's not like there's anything terribly wrong about these renditions... but I had Stravinsky/Columbia back in the days of vinyl (must've donated it somewhere along the way), and that was a memorable recording.
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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    I have the Salonen/LA Rite of Spring and yes, the base drum is very present in that recording. I just feel the rest of the orchestra is less present. I actuall saw Salonen perform this in LA a few weeks ago and, let me say, it was incredible. I went home to review the CD that was recorded in the same hall, with the same orchestra and the same conductor, and it was nowhere near the live performance. Of course, a recording will never recreate the sound of a live performance 100%, but I think the disc could have been better engineer to more accurately reproduce the sound in that hall.

    So, while that performance on disc is very well done, I think the recorded sound is over-rated.

    The performance I attended will be available at some point for purchase on iTunes. I will look forward to hearing it; hopefully the sound will be better than the DG disc.
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    Senior Member Badinerie's Avatar
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    I love the Antal Dorati Detriot Symphony Orchestra 1982 Decca recording. If you can find the vinyl ...wow! but its availble on CD in the Penguin classics range.
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    boulez/ortf
    ozawa/chicago

    dj

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    Default Le Sacre Du Printemps - Best Recording

    1. Pierre Boulez - Cleveland - 1977
    2. Zubin Mehta - New York Philharmonic - 1978

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    Junior Member theclassicalguy's Avatar
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    I'm a big fan of Colin Davis' recording. Though it's the only one I own, I studied many different ones before I bought it. Davis' is, in my opinion, one of the most vicious of them all. I can't say that I noticed the base drum being overly prominent, but it wasn't shoved in the background either. In general, the sound was clearer than most. You can really appreciate this in the procession of the sage, where you can hear all the seperate instruments creating their cacophony. I feel like the tam-tam (at least I think it's a tam-tam) tends to get lost in most recordings during this passage. Davis also gives the few quiet passages a delicacy that I appreciate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by david johnson View Post
    ozawa/chicago

    dj
    Ditto. I'd give anything to have that performance on DVD!

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    Senior Member Moldyoldie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Badinerie View Post
    I love the Antal Dorati Detriot Symphony Orchestra 1982 Decca recording. If you can find the vinyl ...wow! but its availble on CD in the Penguin classics range.
    Ditto! I may be biased, but this has to be the "baddest" balls-out in-your-face recording I've heard thus far! Batten down the hatches! It can be had very cheap on the used market.

    Two of the most "out there" recordings I've heard are of opposite ilks:

    Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps) (Orchestral and Pianola versions!)
    Boston Philharmonic Orchestra
    Benjamin Zander, cond.
    Rex Lawson, pianola
    IMP MASTERS

    Incredibly racy tempos based on Stravinsky's own pianola version, performed by the notorious semi-pro Boston Philharmonic. Unfortunately out-of-print, but one often gets lucky.


    Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite (Original 1910 vers.); The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps); Petrushka (1911 version); Symphony in Three Movements
    London Symphony Orchestra
    Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, cond.
    NIMBUS

    Ultra-expansive interpretations in ultra-spacious recordings exemplary of the Nimbus label. A good sound system helps, but turn up the volume and the room is filled with orchestral color and bliss!
    Last edited by Moldyoldie; Jan-29-2009 at 23:13.
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    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    Is Maazel/Cleveland any good?
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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    In another Sacre thread the subject was being brought up about the "restrained" approach (such as Boulez/Cleveland) vs. the "riot-inducing" approach (Gergiev's ilk). I cannot understand how the restrained approach to this work can possibly work; even though Stravinsky really was primarily a composer of logic and cool, collected intelligence, this piece was written before his foray into neo-classicism. When you take it as a group with Petrouchka and the Firebird, I think the all-stops-out style of performing the Sacre makes infinitely more sense. This isn't one of the symphonies.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    I agree, Violist. Stravinky said with Le Sacre that he wanted "to send them all to hell." I don't see how you can do just that by taking the neo-classical approach to a work that you so nicely pointed out was before his neoclassical period.

    I repeat: this is music of PAGAN Russia where human sacrifice is the order of the day (or in this case, night). Hmmm...pagan...human sacrifice...yeah, we should present this with tact and good taste.

    Le Sacre should explode with ancient fury; it should not sound like a Mozartian cream puff.

    So, the louder, the more brutal, the better. Send me to hell, Igor!
    chalkpie likes this.
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    Junior Member theclassicalguy's Avatar
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    Amen to that, Tapkaara!

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