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An Impressive Crispness

The Royal Concertgebouw
Orchestra plays
heard by

RCO Live    RCO 08002

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra - Stravinsky: L'Oiseau de feu; Le sacre du printemps. Mariss Jansons, chief conductor. © 2008 Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest

Recording the Rite of Spring is no longer the testing experience it once was. Orchestras can play it and conductors can direct it well. The reason to make it happen over again is either that a conductor new to the piece on disc needs to prove it can be done under new direction, or that there is something new to be made of its internal mechanics. There is of course the possibility that a new excitement might be generated, though it is unlikely that this will create a commercial stir -- there is enough excitement in the catalogues already which currently list 98 recordings!

Mariss Jansons adds to this again, for reasons best understood by others. He recorded it with the Oslo Philharmonic in 1997 (Angel) and again with them in 2000 for EMI. Now on the Concertgebouw's own label (RCO Live) he does it again, recorded apparently live in three sessions (presumably three different performances), two in November 2005 and one in June 2006, and certainly makes some impact. He can certainly do it.

There is an impressive crispness in the rival games

Listen -- Jeux des cités rivales (Le sacre du printemps)
(track 12, 0:00-0:39) © 2008 Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest

and clarity in the Dance of the Earth through which the trumpets and violins ring out.

Listen -- Danse de la terre (Le sacre du printemps)
(track 15, 0:00-0:19) © 2008 Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest

There is also some interesting accentuation within some textures, as in the Ritual of the Ancestors

Listen -- Action rituelle des Ancêtres (Le sacre du printemps)
(track 20, 0:50-1:53) © 2008 Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest

which gives a slightly different dimension to what is more simple on the page. Yet for all this, one wonders why it is necessary to be here yet again. The performance of the Firebird is clear and exciting and just about what Stravinsky wrote. No doubt he would be pleased!

Copyright © 5 February 2009 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK




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