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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Rite
I have 8 renditions of Stravisnky's Rite in total and now I can finish my search: I've found one I am completely happy with. It has the seething raw energy that the piece deserves and delivers it in a more controlled manner (in my opinion) than Bernstein's celebrated 1958 recording. Brilliant exhilarating stuff.
Published on 1 Jun. 2007 by JW Bradshaw

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing
I first heard the Rite of Spring over 25 years ago and bought this recording in 2009 on the strength of some of the other reviews - what a disappointment. Either the remastering has been really badly hashed or it was recorded at too high a level on the original master tapes - either way, the brass seems badly distorted and the whole effect is so grating that I find it...
Published on 5 Feb. 2012 by David Mac

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Rite, 1 Jun. 2007
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This review is from: Stravinsky: Petrouchka, The Rite Of Spring, Fireworks (Audio CD)
I have 8 renditions of Stravisnky's Rite in total and now I can finish my search: I've found one I am completely happy with. It has the seething raw energy that the piece deserves and delivers it in a more controlled manner (in my opinion) than Bernstein's celebrated 1958 recording. Brilliant exhilarating stuff.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best!, 16 Jun. 2008
By 
D. E. Potts - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stravinsky: Petrouchka, The Rite Of Spring, Fireworks (Audio CD)
I completely agree with the review above. A remarkable recording and one of my favourates. Ozawa has pulled it off with staggering precsision and pace without loosing any of the chaos and rawness, and with the bmg hp remastering (originally recorded 1968) it sounds fresher than most modern recordings.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely, convincingly REAL, 16 Sept. 2008
By 
Mr. S. Brown "Stuart Brown" (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stravinsky: Petrouchka, The Rite Of Spring, Fireworks (Audio CD)
RECORDING QUALITY: Amazingly good, considering the age of the recording. To be frank, it sounds better than the much more recent recordings that I have. Since I'm using Quad electrostatics, I'd expect any flaws in the recording to shine through. There are no flaws.
INTERPRETATION: Unique. Listen to this with a full score in front of you and you soon realise that everything is there, in its place, with professional precision, and yet THE ENERGY! There are a number of good performances on the market and I thought that I'd heard the best of them, including various other five star rated issues. They don't touch this one, not by a long way. This performance made me SHIVVER. It almost frightened me. It made my spine tingle. As for the final dance, it is the only rendition I have ever heard in which I could genuinely believe that a poor lass was being forced to dance herself to death. It left me gasping for breath and I was only LISTENING to it, not dancing it!
WHAT ABOUT THE COMPETITION? I won't comment on the competition. I have most of the recordings available and I simply don't listen to them any more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly virulent, barbaric - and yes, beautiful, too, 12 Jan. 2011
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stravinsky: Petrouchka, The Rite Of Spring, Fireworks (Audio CD)
This disc presents an inspired coupling of two extraordinarily fine recordings by Ozawa in his Young Turk days before he got too comfortable. He has two of the finest American orchestras at his disposal playing with fire and virtuosity, preserving remarkable accuracy and beauty of tone - though not too much in the case of the "Rite" - despite the freedom and propulsiveness of these interpretations. A young Michael Tilson Thomas is just wonderful as the pianist in "Petrouchka" in a performance which triumphantly captures the peculiar, mawkish charm of the score.

This is not the only way to play the "Rite of Spring"; Gergiev's more massive and detailed approach also pays off but this account will leave you thrilled, breathless and disturbed; Ozawa's faster tempi and hell-for-leather élan come as close to a criminally graphic representation of ritual murder in music as you are likely to hear. Stravinsky himself is more "measured" (hardly the word for such a piece, I know) in his account and I am conscious of Ozawa sacrificing some orchestral and instrumental effects, such as how the last crashing discord is delivered, to sheer bludgeoning impact - but I love it. The sound quality and dynamic range are stunning for the era.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting performances of great technical skill led by a young Ozawa and given remastering of considerable 'presence', 18 Aug. 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stravinsky: Petrouchka, The Rite Of Spring, Fireworks (Audio CD)
This disc contains recordings from early in Ozawa's recording career made in 1968-9. The original analogue recordings have been remastered using the latest digital technology that needs to be described before judgement is then made.

..........................
Optional technical note:
The mastering at 24 bits (dynamic range) and 96 kHz (frequency range) may need some explanation to be more fully understood. Every time one bit is added, the stored information doubles. Early digital recordings were made on digital recorders with only 16 bits and 48 kHz of potential information. So taking 16 bits as a notional starting size of one piece of information the following upgrade occurs:

16 bits=1; 17 bits =2, 18 bits =4, 19 bits = 8, 20 bits = 16, 21 bits = 32, 22 bits = 64, 23 bits = 128, 24 bits = 25. Mathematically therefore 24 bit processing will contain 256 times the stored information. The same is true of visual information. An 8 bit jpeg file with a fixed range of 240 colours is far inferior to a 16 bit raw or tiff file giving 61,440 colours. This difference is not possible to detect on a camera phone but is easy to see on a medium or large print with all the subtle extra shadings being very visible.

Latest research throws doubt on whether this extra information can be heard. With discs played back on reference equipment such as mine (the equivalent to a large print image), the differences can always be heard with the greatest differences being regularly apparent on the oldest recordings. These observations are made as I hear them following on from direct comparisons made between each earlier and re-mastered disc as reviewed. Readers using different playback equipment may have different listening experiences.
.......................

The result on this disc is the expected increased 'presence' with added internal clarity and detail plus dynamic and frequency response compared to the original CD releases.

In addition to all of the above there is also the matter of playback levels. This disc, like others in the series, has been set at an unusually high playback level. This is something of an own goal as it may easily be uncomfortably loud in domestic circumstances. The obvious answer is to turn down the volume, I would suggest by by at least 4 decibels, and then the full range of the remastering can be better appreciated with all the advantages that are explained in the previous paragraphs.

As regards the performances, they are generally delivered at a brisk tempo, but not so much that there is any sense of undue hurry or technical distress for the players. The technical level of the playing is outstandingly accurate and the nature of the 'interpretation' is to produce excitement through forward pacing, particularly at the conclusion of each part. This makes sense especially at the points in both ballets where death is the final act.

Of the two ballets, Petrouchka is the less driven and this is also appropriate. Solo instrumental playing is a feature of the writing and there are fine examples of solo woodwind, trumpet and piano, the latter being the playing of Michael Tilson-Thomas. The concluding piece, Fireworks, is an early work and is simply an orchestral rendition of the effect of a fireworks display and is a suitable 'encore' to the disc.

This is a spectacular disc and shows all the participants off to good advantage. The sound is forward and detailed but needs to be played at a reduced playback level to more fully appreciate its quality in a domestic environment.

I would suggest that, of its type, this is a successful disc. There are other ways of delivering both ballets of course which will be equally effective for many collectors, but this disc works very well on its own terms. As such it deserves to be a serious prospect for purchase.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stravinsky - Ballet to Blow You Away!, 2 Mar. 2011
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This review is from: Stravinsky: Petrouchka, The Rite Of Spring, Fireworks (Audio CD)
Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971) is best remembered for his ballet music, and he is to the dainty classical form what Picasso is to cat portraits. This CD is not for easy listening fans!

Featuring the Chicago and the Boston Symphony Orchestras (but not combined!) conducted by Seiji Ozawa in their respective eponymous symphony halls, these are quite remarkable productions, having started their lives in 1968 and 1969 as (clearly first-class) analogue recordings. The High Performance label and logo dominate the sleeve notes and the CD itself, and for extra emphasis the marketing men have added "audiophile recording" to the case.

Such epithets are usually greeted by a sceptical me with a disdainful Hmmph! But having listened to the content, I shall disdain no more: the team has set an unquestionably high standard. They have done this (according to the notes) by employing 24 bit digitising technology (against the 16 or 20 bit norm) and a sampling rate of 96kHz. All very technical, but the result is a more natural sound of near-real dimensions (maybe even a bit uber-real - see below).

I noticed this before I read the notes, when I played the opening bars of the Rite of Spring, having left the volume control where it had been for previous works I had been listening to. I just had to turn the volume down: the soloist was larger than life and I had visions of bringing the ceiling down when the orchestra joined in. A little further on, when one of the two bass drums was hit with considerable force, I had to reduce the volume again, AND the bass control, not to mention removing some glassware from the occasional table. Really!

The richness of the recording is also present almost to an alarming degree in the Petrouchka suite (yes, that's ch - why does everyone seem to pronounce it as if it's sh?), for which I had to reduce the volume and bass control even further, for fear of the crack in the ceiling, which I don't remember there being before... For Pete's sake, it's a story about some puppets which come to life, not some allegory on Armageddon!

The 3 and a half minute piece "Fireworks" is one of those encore pieces that really deserves more recognition, and those who can get their fingers, lips, lungs, arms and heads around it should be given medals, IMHO.

In short, three seriously good performances, maybe just a tad OTT for some ears, and even if you don't enjoy the music itself, it's a great CD for testing your hi-fi, although I would advise consulting your doctor if you have a pacemaker fitted ;-)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, but fragmented by Amazon!, 22 Dec. 2011
By 
S. J. Ware "Stephen" (Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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The music is superb but I wonder if we could persuade Amazon to resist the urge to split everything up into 79p "songs"? The MP3 files sound fantastic on my Arcam Mini, but throughout Petrushka and the Rite there are great gaps in the sound between the files which completely destroy the flow. (I have been able to get round the problem by joining them in an audio editor)

People will want to listen to music like this right through, not in sections. If the Amazon people read this, please get advice from a musician before you go chopping up great music!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 23 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Stravinsky: Petrouchka, The Rite Of Spring, Fireworks (Audio CD)
Great recording ....... Full of energy ....... I suppose there could be better ...... Too many to listen too and I'm not an expert ..... Last bought a copy of these works in the 80"s on vinyl but my HiFi system is a lot better nowadays ....... So the cd is fine in it's limited way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb recording, 6 Feb. 2013
By 
John HOLLAS (UK) - See all my reviews
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For me, the quality of the recording of these pieces is all important. And this recording is outstanding. The playing, the orchestra and the conducting are first class too. Highly recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, 5 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Stravinsky: Petrouchka, The Rite Of Spring, Fireworks (Audio CD)
I first heard the Rite of Spring over 25 years ago and bought this recording in 2009 on the strength of some of the other reviews - what a disappointment. Either the remastering has been really badly hashed or it was recorded at too high a level on the original master tapes - either way, the brass seems badly distorted and the whole effect is so grating that I find it impossible to listen to the whole thing. Almost any other recording would be preferable. Ozawa and the Chicago Symphony are great names - this recording is just not up to scratch. Avoid.
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