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Thread: Favorite Rite Of Spring

  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Frankly your opinion of Stravinsky's Rite does not give me confidence in your judgment of Karajan's.
    I've been a professional orchestra musician for 50+years, I've played "Le Sacre" numerous times, studied it extensively...believe me, I know the piece...

    A limited range of dynamics? How come we don't hear that?
    When I heard them live, this was the case....on recordings, I wonder how much of the fortissimo end was generated in the control room....

    And frankly I'd rather believe the people who played under him than you, with all due respect.
    I'm sure his musicians cherished the gig - lots of recordings, lots of sales....but his approach to orchestral performance is pretty well-documented - most of the time, he did not even look at his soloists [the eyes closed bit]...I further base my opinions on how different, and better, the BPO sounded under different conductors during the HvK period - I've 2 splendid recordings - one by Mehta [Strauss opera excerpts] and Salonen - [Prokofieff R+ J selections] - which are dynamite - orchestra sounds great - big dynamic range, molto espressivo - both conductors produce an expression and flexibility of sound that HvK never sought, or achieved.
    But - to each his own - if Karajan does it for you. great, enjoy...

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    I recently acquired the RCA/Sony release of Ozawa’s Chicago recordings from the 1960s….Le Sacre” was one of the recordings from that period…I’m happy to report, that the Ozawa release, along with the terrific Martinon and Morton Gould CSO releases, are in splendid sound – much better than the LP originals – lots of depth, impact, brilliance….the Ozawa/CSO “Sacre” is a definite winner – very well-played, with plenty of guts and impact…

    The CSO was just aching to make a commercial release of this great masterpiece – Reiner had programmed it, and planned to record it in the early 60s [would have been cosmic, in all probability – heads my list of “if only-s”] but he fell ill, and the project was cancelled… the CSO performed it splendidly under Martinon [fine live recording] and according to some CSO musicians, Martinon taught the orchestra the piece, which greatly aided Ozawa’s commercial effort…in any case – Ozawa’s is definitely a winner – in very good sound – some terrific playing – trumpets!! Percussion!! Geezus…Herseth and his friends are really eating it alive…
    Last edited by Heck148; Dec-08-2018 at 00:15.

  3. #48
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Here is an Aussie article rating certain versions. He liked the old Karajan version. I heard a lot of different opinions out there. Third Ear hated Boulez's Sony version, but I think it is one of the best.

    https://www.limelightmagazine.com.au...tics-marathon/
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    Third Ear hated Boulez's Sony version, but I think it is one of the best.
    Definitely,Boulez/Cleveland one of the best...one issue i have with it is the very "sterile", non-espressivo opening bassoon solo, and section....Boulez wanted it that way....wanted it to be like an elemental, primitive, "awakening"...sans espressivo... a valid viewpoint, I guess...I don't happen to agree, but Boulez makes his case....it's a superb recording overall...

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    I've been a professional orchestra musician for 50+years, I've played "Le Sacre" numerous times, studied it extensively...believe me, I know the piece...


    When I heard them live, this was the case....on recordings, I wonder how much of the fortissimo end was generated in the control room....



    I'm sure his musicians cherished the gig - lots of recordings, lots of sales....but his approach to orchestral performance is pretty well-documented - most of the time, he did not even look at his soloists [the eyes closed bit]...I further base my opinions on how different, and better, the BPO sounded under different conductors during the HvK period - I've 2 splendid recordings - one by Mehta [Strauss opera excerpts] and Salonen - [Prokofieff R+ J selections] - which are dynamite - orchestra sounds great - big dynamic range, molto espressivo - both conductors produce an expression and flexibility of sound that HvK never sought, or achieved.
    But - to each his own - if Karajan does it for you. great, enjoy...
    Again, you're producing the tired old cliches that naysayers trot out. The musicians who played with him say differently. And to say Mehta and Solonen 'produce an expression and flexibility of sound that HvK never sought, or achieved' just doesn't stand up. Sorry!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Again, you're producing the tired old cliches that naysayers trot out.
    the "tired old cliches" are accurate assessments that are generally accepted by many musicians and listeners.

    The musicians who played with him say differently.
    regardless, they were working under quite narrow ranges of expression, relative to others.

    And to say Mehta and Solonen 'produce an expression and flexibility of sound that HvK never sought, or achieved' just doesn't stand up. Sorry!
    If you've not heard either of the recordings in question, then I'm not sure your comments carry much weight.

    but, again, if von Karajan is your hero, your favorite, fine, no problem here...to each his own...

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    My most memorable was the documentary/reconstruction of the ballet by the Jeoffrey Ballet. It is available here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8TQH-5Vrhk

    Dan

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    Here's an overview of the finest Le Sacre recordings I've heard over the decades:

    One of the better Le Sacre du Printemps I've heard in my life was a live radio broadcast with Charles Dutoit conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra back in the 1980s. It made a strong impression on me at the time, and I don't think I've ever heard the opening sound quite so mysterious. The older Philly orchestra was exceptional in Stravinsky. I wish some label would release that recording one day. Dutoit is an underrated Stravinsky conductor, in my view--though of course I've been very disappointed by the recent news of his narcissistic, cruel treatment of women. Putting that aside (if we can), I'd still consider Dutoit one of the top digital era choices for any music composed during the early Ballets Russes period in Paris in the first decades of the 20th century--especially the music of Stravinsky, Ravel, & Debussy. Of course, it greatly helps that he had such an incredibly virtuosic orchestra in Montreal, considering that Stravinsky was an ingenious, brilliant orchestrator (particularly in these early ballets); so it's especially nice to hear these works played by a first tier orchestra that has been recorded in audiophile sound.

    Lately, I've been enjoying a number of Japanese Shm-CD remasters of Dutoit's Stravinsky on Decca (from "The art of Charles Dutoit" series). They're a little pricey, but the improved sound quality has been worth it. I remember these early digital recordings once sounded incredible on LP in the 1980s, especially on a fine stereo system, and the new Japanese remasters remind me of those days. In this series, I've liked Dutoit's The Firebird and Petrouchka ballets immensely, and am waiting for Le Sacre to arrive in the mail. (The Newton label has also reissued Dutoit's Stravinsky in a box set, but the remasters, while good, aren't quite as special: https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Or...+newton+dutoit).

    Here are the 3 Japanese Shm-CD imports that I've bought & would recommend for their improved sound quality (in addition to Dutoit's Debussy & Ravel in the same series):

    https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-LO...avinsky+import
    https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Pe...avinsky+import
    https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Sa...avinsky+import

    Riccardo Chailly is another digital era conductor that has a special affinity for the music of Stravinsky (like Dutoit & Boulez). His early Stravinsky recordings on Decca with the Cleveland Orchestra included a remarkable Le Sacre du Printemps. They were among the recordings that established Chailly's reputation & career as a conductor (along with his Mahler 10th & excellent Schoenberg Gurrelieder). They're very fine performances--and the Cleveland Orchestra is also exceptional in Stravinsky--as are Chailly's excellent later records in Amsterdam. Chailly's 1985 Le Sacre in Cleveland is one of the most imaginative, intense, and magnificently detailed and rhythmically precise performances I've heard, and it comes in audiophile sound (for its vintage):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFPgwGgSBZQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DuUF4nkrtg

    If you've liked the above clips, I'd recommend the following 2 CD bargain Decca release: https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Pr...5PN1XY97XXCFD1. I've not heard Chailly's recent Le Sacre live from the Lucerne Festival, but it includes a premiere of a newly discovered work by Stravinsky, entitled "Chant Funèbre": https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Ch...lly+stravinsky

    I'm fascinated by how Stravinsky used the orchestra during his early Ballets Russes period (which is one of my favorite eras in the history of music). Therefore, it's been important to me to find first rate performances in state of the art audiophile sound. As with all great orchestrators, I want to hear the whole score, every nuance and detail. Which is why I'm not quite as keen on Stravinsky's own Columbia performances, even though I find his performances fascinating, as well.

    Claudio Abbado was another good Stravinsky conductor, in my view. His London Symphony Orchestra DG recordings are very fine, too. Abbado excelled in music of the 20th century (& I think he's a bit under appreciated in this repertory), including Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Bartok (a brilliant recording of "The Miraculous Mandarin", for instance), & Nono, etc.: https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-pr...9XTF7YBY91J7DZ

    Bernard Haitink & Sir Colin Davis are good in Stravinsky too: https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Ba...ZGTK0VMAT3C2M6, & like Chailly, Davis had the advantage of the Concertgebouw Orchestra for his Philips recordings: https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Fi...vis+stravinsky. I've likewise enjoyed Christoph von Dohnanyi's The Firebird recording with the Vienna Philharmonic, and an RCA Stravinsky set from Michael Tilson Thomas & the San Francisco S.O.. I've yet to get to Robert Craft's Naxos box set of the complete ballets, but hope to.

    For the most up to date 'state of the art' audiophile Stravinsky recordings, there are two conductors that I'd consider quite good in Stravinsky (though not to the same degree as Dutoit, Chailly, & Abbado). They are:

    Andrew Litton & the Bergen Philharmonic on two 'state of the art' BIS hybrid SACDs:

    https://www.amazon.com/Sacre-Du-Prin...SVTT1PD5FK6HZZ
    https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Fi...ton+stravinsky

    And, Jaap van Zweden on various Japanese Exton hybrid SACDs, a label that offers truly phenomenal audiophile sound (interestingly, Zweden was the concert master in Amsterdam for Chailly's Stravinsky recordings): https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Pu...den+stravinsky. I hope to acquire Van Zweden's Le Sacre for my collection at some point, as I've not heard it: https://www.amazon.com/Rite-Spring-A...den+stravinsky

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UJOaGIhG7A

    On period instruments, François-Xavier Roth & Les Siècles are interesting from the standpoint of the sounds of the instruments they use, I suppose, but I don't think Roth's Le Sacre is a first, second, or third choice in this repertoire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9evNJu5kBo

    https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Sa...oth+stravinsky.

    With all that said, it's still hard to beat the older conductors in Stravinsky's music!, as they had special insights into Le Sacre (of which I'd include Pierre Boulez, even though he recorded well into the digital era): Here's a list of my favorites (including some of my desert island Stravinsky discs):

    1. Karel Ancerl--Czech Philharmonic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMdooptRbdk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acgj...jYzMczT7ZZsdGi

    2. Ernest Bour, who I gather was something of a mentor to Boulez, conducts a very fine Le Sacre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4ak...cHv7mv88z8CBt3

    3. Igor Markevitch--with the Philharmonia Orchestra--Markevitch was one of Diaghilev's protégés, & this 1959 EMI performance is one of the finest Le Sacre du Printemps ever recorded, IMO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5DF401YvTo

    https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Sp.../dp/B01I286XKW

    4. Pierre Boulez--both his CBS and DG Le Sacre du Printemps recordings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwcUSshWhlw, along with Boulez's early 1963 Grand Prix du Disque winning recording with the Orchestre National de L'O.R.T.F.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wK8fSkjOy0.

    5. Ernest Ansermet--who worked closely with Stravinsky and gave a number of premieres of his works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgRw...q6GmZfjU7aBgv1

    https://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Ba...met+stravinsky

    Pierre Monteux should be mentioned too, as he conducted the 1913 premiere of Le Sacre in Paris, where it caused a furor & riot (reenacted in the film "Coco & Igor"--the best scene in the movie). While it is of course worth hearing Monteux's Le Sacre, I've come to see him as a better live conductor than he was in the studio. Monteux later disowned all of his Decca studio recordings, saying the performances had lost their magic and spontaneity due to the many retakes required in the studio. Having heard a number of his live recordings, I get what he was talking about, and consider him a more vital conductor live. Hence, I'd be interested to hear Monteux's live Stravinsky, but I'm not sure if there are any recordings?

    I've not heard the well regarded Le Sacres by Bernstein, Stokowski, Gergiev, & Dorati (but have liked Dorati's Mercury Firebird recording). It's a shame that no record label ever contracted Nadia Boulanger to record Le Sacre (or any other Stravinsky works--not even Dumbarton Oaks?, which she premiered in Boston), considering her close relationship to the composer & his music, and Stravinsky's high opinion of her musical gifts (as he asked her to teach one of his children, I recall).

    The following documentary film on Stravinsky by Tony Palmer has received excellent reviews & includes many interviews with people that knew Stravinsky, and Stravinsky himself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKCUOYw9yuc

    Finally, I well remember Stravinsky's voice on my old Columbia LPs, saying "I was guided by no system whatever in Le Sacre du Printemps, I had only my ear to help me; I heard and I wrote what I heard. I am the vessel through which Le Sacre passed..."
    Last edited by Josquin13; Dec-09-2018 at 10:42.

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  10. #54
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    I like the Maazel/Cleveland recording that was available on Telarc. A friend who played in the Cleveland Orchestra for decades (including on the Maazel recording and both Boulez versions) that Maazel found mistakes that even Boulez (with his incredible ear) had missed. It's a very exciting performance in first-rate stereo.

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    Senior Member Gordontrek's Avatar
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    My favorite is Leonard Bernstein/New York Philharmonic, 1958 on Sony. I have heard many others but always return to that one. Lenny really knows how to bring out the fire in the piece. Stravinsky himself reportedly listened to the recording and said "Wow!" at the end of it.
    I also enjoy Esa-Pekka Salonen's recording with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Tends to be more aggressive tempo-wise than most others, which I find thrilling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gordontrek View Post
    My favorite is Leonard Bernstein/New York Philharmonic, 1958 on Sony. I have heard many others but always return to that one. Lenny really knows how to bring out the fire in the piece.
    Yup - the Bernstein/NYPO from '58 is really a classic - my first real plunge into classical/concert music...It's still one of my top picks - the NYPO wild men of the 40s-50s are at full throttle throughout....love the opening solo by one of my old teachers - Wm Polisi - great sound in high register...supposedly, the NYPO had not performed "Le Sacre" for some time...Bernstein and Columbia decided to record it on short notice, resulting in the wild-swinging affair that was produced on that occasion...

    I also enjoy Esa-Pekka Salonen's recording with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Tends to be more aggressive tempo-wise than most others, which I find thrilling.
    Heard Salonen play it live with Chicago a couple of years ago - outstanding - best live "Sacre" I've ever heard - wish they'd recorded it for commercial release...E-SP definitely has the piece down....

  13. #57
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    I'll check out the Monteux. The Markevitch with the Warsaw Philharmonic is nuts. The most aggressive I've heard, can't compare with his other versions.
    I found a performance of some parts of the Warsaw version on YouTube. The recording balance isn't great, and the playing isn't clean, but it is hair-raising, like the orchestra is possessed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjO5UncD5eM
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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