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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Igor Stravinsky - Ballets (Riccardo Chailly)


Composer: Igor Stravinsky

  • (01-15) Petrouchka (1947 version)
  • (16-28) Le Sacre du printemps (1947 version)
  • (01-11) L'Oiseau de feu - suite (1945 version)
  • (12-14) Jeu de cartes
  • (15-24) Apollon musagète (1947 version)

Cleveland Orchestra
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

Date: 1985-1996
Compilation: 2003
Label: Decca




This Stravinsky set of ballet music has it all: a conductor famous for his attention to detail, world-class orchestras, audiophile sound, and a price that is easy on the wallet. All but one of these recordings were justly praised in their initial releases; the exception, a never-before-released sparkling rendition of Jeu de Cartes, should have been issued, for it is one of the very best. Of the lot, Riccardo Chailly’s gripping, urgent 1985 account of Le sacre du printemps merits inclusion among the great performances of this piece on disc. Not only does it remain a demonstration-quality disc (with a bass drum part that rivals the most explosive offerings from Telarc) but it also highlights the unflappability of the redoubtable Cleveland Orchestra. Take the “Sacrificial Dance” of Part 2, for instance: the rhythmic precision is so uncannily taut that we can hear through the unbridled savagery of this complex music right to the heart of the score–no mean feat.

The rest of the two-disc set is given over to Chailly and his beloved Concertgebouw, which yields nothing to its Cleveland counterpart. In the 1945 Firebird Suite (with reduced forces), Chailly and the Concertgebouw dwell successfully on the score’s luminous textures, especially in the various Princess dance sections, achieving a remarkable transparency and lightness. At the same time, they pull out the stops in a sudden burst of sound with the entrance of Katschei’s infernal dance. Chailly’s Petrouchka is nothing less than stellar, with great solos from the trumpet and flute allied with a general orchestral virtuosity that yields a white-hot performance.

Recorded in 1996, the Jeu de Cartes conveys just the right amount of wittiness (how can you help but smile at the collision of Rossini and Beethoven in the quicksilver Presto of the third “deal”?) and yet again, the clarity and rhythmic control are simply staggering. Inner voices in the strings that are meant to be merely background to the action reveal nuances that are not often heard in other recordings. Finally, the Concertgebouw’s sonorous strings offer a rather full-bodied, lush Apollon musagète, probably more “romantic” and ardent in conception than others (including Stravinsky’s own). Concertmaster Jaap van Zweden’s solos come across exceptionally well, full of lyricism and introspection. [5/10/2003]

-- ClassicsToday

More reviews:


Igor Stravinsky (17 June [O.S. 5 June] 1882 – 6 April 1971) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century. He first achieved international fame with three ballets commissioned by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913). Stravinsky's compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. His output is typically divided into three general style periods: a Russian period, a neoclassical period, and a serial period.


Riccardo Chailly (born 20 February 1953 in Milan) is an Italian conductor. Chailly studied  conducting with Franco Ferrara and became assistant conductor to Claudio Abbado at La Scala at the age of 20. He started his career as an opera conductor and gradually extended his repertoire to encompass symphonic music. Chailly was chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (1982-1988) and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (1988-2004). He is currently chief conductor of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (since 2005). He recorded exclusively for Decca.


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