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Stravinsky / Debussy / Boulez - Chicago Symphony Orchestra

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Stravinsky: Petrouchka; Le Sacre du Printemps
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Product details

  • Conductor: Daniel Barenboim
  • Composer: Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Boulez
  • Audio CD (15 Oct. 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B000059QW2
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 130,503 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Format: Audio CD
Both Petrushka and the Rite date from 1911, and these performances of them were recorded in 1991. By that date Boulez himself was not in the springtime of his youth, and it may well be, as some comment seems to suggest, that his readings are less incisive than in earlier days. Myself, I am not even fully convinced that this is the case, and even if it is the compensations seem to me more than to make up for it. These readings are less strident than some, and there is no sense of straining to obtain effects of contrast. Petrushka's cry, for one thing, is relatively euphonious here, and the Rite in general is probably not quite as dramatic as my wonderful performance, extraordinarily well recorded on a Mercury LP about 50 years ago, by Dorati with the Minneapolis orchestra. On the other hand, Boulez at this stage of his career seems concerned more than before with beauty of orchestral tone, and I say without hesitation that this is the most beautiful Petrushka that I have ever heard in my own lengthening life.

In any case, even if the new approach is less forceful than previously, I detect no loss whatsoever of underlying strength. Boulez has always seemed to me ideally suited as a conductor of Stravinsky. His dynamics may be less `terraced' here than he would once have made them, but the clarity of texture that he obtains is as absolute as ever, and his strength of line and rock-steady firmness of rhythm mark him out as they always did. Above all what is bound to strike you in this performance is the sheer quality of it all. Listening to sound as magnificent as this, I was astonished that it had been achieved so long ago as 1991.
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Format: Audio CD
If you are bored of hearing The Rite of Spring played swiftly and cleanly, but were a tad overwhelmed by Valery Gergiev's brutal 1999 recording with the Kirov, then this could be the Rite for you. Barenboim and the Chicago SO are menacingly paced and extremely agressive, but there is also a tight, compacted sound to the orchestra. As for La Mer, this interpretation is a real grower. Barenboim races through it, but it never sounds rushed. It's a harder hearted recording than most others, but that suits La Mer very well- it gives it a elusive, mercurial tone rather than a static, contemplative one. The Boulez is also a nice bonus which reflects niceley the feel of the two main works on offer.

To have captured so well the diverse canvasses of Le Sacre and La Mer is to the credit of the teldec recording quality on this great CD.

P.S To save confusion, I should point out that Pierre Boulez does not conduct at all here- it's Daniel Barenboim.
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Format: Audio CD
Barenboim has pulled off quite a coup with this recent recording of the Rite. There are, after all, many versions of this piece available. So what makes this version so good? Well, both conductor and orchestra emerge on top form. Barenboim keeps to the essence of the piece: spontaneity. His is a restless, seething interpretation. The power of the Chicago SO is pleasantly surprising. Indeed, this is a Rite which sends even the seasoned listened to the edge of his seat. The couplings, La Mer and Notations are equally evocative and all the pieces here complement each other very well. Barenboim and the CSO have much to be pleased about. As one has come to expect from Teldec, the sound quality is commendable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.5 out of 5 stars 21 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'Rite' that maintains intensity without losing musicality 22 April 2014
By Douglas Burkett - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've always loved Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The more versions I listen to the more I appreciate this amazing work and the individual performances of it.

Having heard quite a few recordings of 'Rite', my primary complaint toward many versions would be that they go over-the-top with the reading and performance. While I love powerful and emotional performances, the intricacies and the softer moments need just as much attention, which brings me to this recording.

Boulez is often considered to give readings of pieces that are transparent and has been described as 'cool' and technical. While I certainly would not have thought this style would be an appropriate pairing with Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, I was completely wrong.

The precision that Boulez brings out in this performance makes this Rite a pleasure to hear; its delicate and intricate passages come across clearly. Too often the rapid passages, quick runs and softer moments are lost in versions that are simply over played or performed too aggressively, but that is not the case here. There is already plenty of brute force and power built into the composition itself; to overplay this piece is like taking food that is already seasoned and then adding more to the point it is over seasoned.

Boulez's transparency allows all of the quieter moments to be just as important and to be contrast against the loud and furious sections rather than simply exist within their shadows. This is accomplished without giving up any of the intensity of the primordial bombast—in fact, the powerful sections are even more impressive on this recording due to the fine details that are within them, which are more clearly heard in this version.

As for the first piece on the recording, Stravinsky's Petrouchka, I'm not as familiar with this work and can only compare it to a couple of recordings I've heard of it. I felt the performance of it was well-played and technically sound, and I found Boulez's different interpretations of the tempi quite intriguing, and I came to like this version the more I listened to it. It's not a reading that would necessarily replace others, but it is one to have as a complimentary version for comparison. The Rite is the real headliner on this disc, but Petrouchka is enjoyable in its own right both as a composition and in this reading of it.

Along with a recording that is slightly dated but still clear and balanced, Boulez offers a version of the Rite of Spring that I find refreshing and that still allows for a technical clarity on passages that were once lost but are now heard within the chaos, all without giving up any of the harsh intensity that is within this incredible, demanding work.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey - it's just art! 2 Dec. 2008
By Robert M. Freedman - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's a wonderful thing to hear these pieces performed with different interpretations. Stravinsky's recordings on Columbia with the NY Philharmonic present them to us in a way that pleased the composer at the time. Maestro Boulez used the Cleveland Orchestra to give us different 'views' of the music. I have a preference for what might be called Stravinsky's funkier approach to Petrouchka. On the other hand the clarity of Le Sacre on this recording allows us to hear aspects of the orchestration that had previously escaped me. Anyway, there would be no point in having every conductor with every orchestra perform the music in exactly the same manner. Vive la difference!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indeed it is a wonderful recording in all respects 11 April 2015
By Gary Gillespie - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
One music critic claims that this 1990 Pierre Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra recording of Le Sacre du Printemps is the definitive one. Indeed it is a wonderful recording in all respects; however, when I compare this recording with Riccardo Chailly and the Cleveland Orchestra's recording of Le Sacre, I prefer the latter. The Chailly recording (1985) is on the London label. It has a pulsating urgency and high--tension not felt in the Boulez interpretation. Under Chailly's baton the Clevelanders' playing is on steroids, and they leave little doubt that spring is the mating season. Maybe the Cleveland Orchestra's performance of Le Sacre under any conductor would be a smashing success?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reference quality. 10 Nov. 2009
By Joseph M. Perorazio - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Whether it was through studio manipulation or Boulez' conducting mastery (I suspect both), this recording of Le Sacre and Petrouchka stands out for its orchestral precision and stunning sound quality. The recording of Le Sacre, especially, is full of intricate detail that many other recordings miss. An outstanding document of two of the 20th century's essential musical works by the leading conductor of the modern repertoire.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 30 Dec. 2016
By azmusicangel - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
LOVE this music!
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