WORKS: The Fairy’s Kiss; Three Pieces from The Sleeping Beauty (arr. Stravinsky)
PERFORMER: Hong Kong PO/David Atherton
CATALOGUE NO: VM 5 61281 2 DDD
Those who expect Solti to produce a hard-driven account of Petrushka may be surprised by his rather weighty and measured approach to the score. The effect is illuminating in the central tableaux, where the music is shaped with affection and sensitivity, but the fairground scenes fail to attain the level of animated excitement that made Chailly’s recent Decca recording such an overwhelming success. Add to this some sour flute intonation and slack orchestral ensemble at the very opening – one of the perils of a live recording – and it’s evident that this Petrushka can’t register in an already competitive market.
Jeu de cartes tells a very different story, however. The Chicago Symphony appears to be much more fired up by this work, with Solti inspiring a performance that bristles with dynamic energy and caustic wit.
Energy and wit also play a crucial role in The Fairy’s Kiss, Stravinsky’s affecting homage to his beloved Tchaikovsky. But the score as a whole represents a gentler side of the composer. Unfortunately, there’s precious little magic in the opening bars of Atherton’s somewhat dry recording, but the performance gains immeasurably once we arrive at the Village Scene. Thereafter, the Hong Kong Philharmonic acquit themselves admirably, and the three Tchaikovsky arrangements are a sheer delight. Erik Levi