Stravinsky, Bart—k, Musorgsky

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bartok,Musorgsky,Stravinsky
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Stravinksy, Bartók, Musorgsky
WORKS: The Rite of Spring
PERFORMER: Los Angeles PO/Esa-Pekka Salonen
CATALOGUE NO: 477 6198
Three years ago the Los Angeles

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Philharmonic moved into Walt

Disney Concert Hall, a stunning

new auditorium endowed by the

great cartoonist’s widow Lillian. Two

years later one of the items on the

programme that evening, Stravinsky’s

Rite of Spring, was revisited for

this inaugural Walt Disney Hall

recording. The results are undeniably

potent. I’m not sure, for instance,

that I’ve ever heard so much of the

Rite’s instrumental detail revealed

so intricately: the interweaving

woodwind of the introduction are

exquisitely, indeed eerily sifted, and

even in the biggest climaxes there is

unusual clarity of texture. Partly this

is due to Esa-Pekka Salonen’s highly

perceptive conducting, partly it’s

the fine recording, blending timbral accuracy with neat positional focus in

the stereo version. The multi-channel

SACD sound warms the marginally

dry acoustic, and has the typical

effect of enlarging the soundstage,

though rear speakers are in this

respect used a touch conservatively.

Bass response is mighty – try ‘Rondes

printanières’ for some impressive

floorboard shaking.

The couplings are also attractive

– swirling, intermittently thunderous

renditions of Musorgsky’s original

version of Night on the Bare Mountain

and the concert suite from Bartók’s

Miraculous Mandarin ballet, the

latter perhaps a smidgeon wanting

in sleaze and malice. Reservations?

As captured here the hall acoustic

is a little short on front-to-back

perspective, and the Rite occasionally

lacks a shot of raw ferocity. Chailly’s

immensely powerful Cleveland

performance (part of an attractive

Double Decca package) provides

that in spades, and on SACD I prefer

Paavo Järvi’s superbly engineered

Telarc version. But Salonen’s is

a compelling Rite, and one to be

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seriously reckoned with. Terry Blain