Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring; The Firebird

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Stravinsky
WORKS: The Rite of Spring; The Firebird
PERFORMER: Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago SO/Pierre Boulez
CATALOGUE NO: 471 741-2 Reissue (1992, 1993)
Listening to Boulez on disc, one cannot suppress the image of the conductor on stage, mathematically dividing up pockets of time like an accounts clerk touched with musical genius. True to form, the studied bassoon solo that gets his Rite of Spring under way is the harbinger of a meticulously contemplated reading. It is a little like inspecting a perfectly ordered room, and has the same advantages and disadvantages. One knows where to find everything, and the exceptionally precise Cleveland Orchestra produces some effectively violent explosions where one likes to hear them, but there is little of freshness or surprise in the whole affair. The Firebird offers more virtuoso orchestral playing, but again is clean and a bit soulless. Stravinsky’s own accounts from the Sixties still sound to me dangerous and edgy, animated and motive, with more spontaneity and fire than one has a right to demand of an 80-year-old. Christopher Wood