COMPOSERS: Igor Stravinsky
ALBUM TITLE: Stravinsky
WORKS: The Rite of Spring
PERFORMER: MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis
CATALOGUE NO: Sony 88875061412
What pretensions, you may think as you make out ‘Currentzis Stravinsky’ through the dots on the cover art, or as you read this conductor’s poem-note and sift out the wheat from the chaff. There’s not a word on his crack mostly-Russian MusicAeterna. If you’ve seen Teodor Currentzis in action, you’ll probably have found him as irritating as I have to watch, all lock-tossing in a way that seems as phoney as the equally mobile Andris Nelsons is palpably not. Yet out of this comes a nearly 35-minute (buyer beware) CD that offers the best recording of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring I can remember. That’s quite a claim, and the proportions of song and rhythm, of detail and the sheer volume of sound, are in perfect yet electrifying equilibrium.
The folk melodies Stravinsky adapts are Lithuanian, not Russian as the Perm-born conductor wants us to believe, simply because the composer felt the more primeval strain couldn’t be found in his homeland. It doesn’t matter; the time the bassoonist takes in shaping the opening melody is a sign of the cantabile elements which blossom throughout, even if that means taking slower tempos than Stravinsky envisaged, especially in Part 2’s steamy prelude. The racier dances, on the other hand, have continuity at a fast pace. Balances feel right in a vivid concert hall perspective; volume must have been turned up on the woodwind in ensembles so that their darting and diving could enrich the picture as on no other recording I know.