LABELS: RCA Red Seal
WORKS: Le sacre du printemps (1913 reconstruction & 1967 final version)
PERFORMER: Zürich Tonhalle/David Zinman
CATALOGUE NO: 88843095462
Zurich seems a long way from Paris, where the 1913 premiere of The Rite of Spring took place. Yet, as the thorough and beautifully presented booklet reminds us, Stravinsky created parts of this great score in French-speaking Switzerland. And in 1922 the fine Swiss conductor who worked with him, Ernest Ansermet, gave in Zurich the national premiere of Part II’s opening, with the composer’s special concert ending. David Zinman, amanuensis of Stravinsky’s other best-known Ballets Russes conductor Pierre Monteux, includes this among other wonders on the second disc. On the first we get the 1913 reconstruction drawn from the original manuscript in Basel’s Paul Sacher Foundation.
Best, perhaps, to play Zinman’s illustrated talk between rather than after the two versions. You can, as I did, list the number of oddities in the first version, then hear what Zinman has to say. The changes aren’t staggering, but most are interesting – not least the addition of down bows on the famous ostinato, so soft in the original. The conductor’s wind arrangement of the original Lithuanian song adapted for the opening is a real bonus. Zinman bears out his words on realising the French impressionistic element, aided by ravishing wind and solo strings; and if the big stomps are a bit tame, the detail is incredible in a sound-picture which sets the orchestra at a perfectly-proportioned distance. Unmissable for anyone who loves this ever-fascinating score.