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Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps, L'Oiseau de feu - Fischer

Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps, L'Oiseau de feu - Fischer

Channel Classics  CCS SA 32112

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Stravinsky: Rite of Spring, Firebird Suite, Scherzo, Tango

Budapest Festival Orchestra
Ivan Fischer (conductor)


The recipe seems simple: take a simple melody of six notes and repeat it in the same order, accentuating a different note each time. For example:
1 *2* 3 4 2 5
1 2 3 4 2 *5*
*1* 2 3 4 2 5
Here we have the beginning of the Sacre du Printemps (with a short transition between lines 2 and 3)!

Next step: add a rhythmic pattern and repeat it many times. Prepare a few of these and combine them thoroughly until you get a polyrhythmic and polytonal mix! Finished. With his simple recipe, Stravinsky changed the world. Many plants grew from this seed: beat, rock, rap, minimal music. A pagan, sacrifice ritual with shocking music and shocking choreography: three exceptional talents - Roerich, Nijinsky and Stravinsky - brought about an artistic revolution with a masterstroke. 100 years later it still sounds fresh, pagan, scary, new and beautiful.

Iván Fischer

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Review by Graham Williams - February 5, 2012

The countless admirers of Ivan Fischer and his marvellous Budapest Festival Orchestra will be delighted by the appearance of this magnificently executed and spectacularly recorded Stravinsky SACD.

Writing about 'The Rite of Spring' in the liner notes Ivan Fischer says that even after 100 years “it still sounds fresh, pagan, scary, new and beautiful”. His gripping account of this much-recorded work that opens the disc triumphantly translates each of these five adjectives into a spine tingling musical realisation of this iconic work that will surely place it amongst the finest versions in the catalogue.

Fischer's pacing of Part 1 'Adoration of the Earth' demonstrates his unerring ability to draw the listener into his interpretation within the first few bars of the 'Introduction'. In the stamping rhythms of 'The Augurs of Spring' that follow, the horns have notably more forward presence and savagery than on Litton's recent BIS version with the Bergen P O. In contrast Fischer gives 'Spring Rounds' (marked Sostenuto e pesante) extra solemnity by adopting a markedly slower tempo than Litton . Throughout the work there are many such illuminating differences in balances and tempi to be savoured between these two excellent recordings of the ballet - differences due not only to the decisions of their respective interpreters but also the contrasting seating arrangements of their respective orchestras and acoustics of the recording venues etc.

Part 2 'The Sacrifice' opens with a ravishing evocation of a pagan night whose mystery and stillness is given a hypnotic beauty in Fisher's hands thanks to to Budapest Festival Orchestra's supremely seductive playing. The eleven heavy chords that open the 'Glorification of the Chosen One' have terrific punch and Fischer pushes forward to thrilling effect in the 'Evocation of the Ancestors'. When finally the 'Sacrificial Dance (The Chosen One)' is reached , its rhythmic complexity and frenetic drive causes no problems of execution for this supremely talented body of players.

Fischer's performance of the 1919 suite from 'The Firebird ' is equally compelling particularly for the sensual beauty of the collective orchestral sound and individual solos by oboe, flute, bassoon and horn in the 'Princess's Round Dance' and 'Berceuse' as well as the precision and excitement of the 'Infernal Dance' with its incisive brass and thrilling percussion. The transparency and depth of the recording is especially apparent in the 'Introduction' with its muted string basses and eerie string harmonic glissandi which can often sound muddy on record, but not here. One's only minor regret is that he has not recorded the complete ballet rather than just this suite.

The other two short fill-ups allow Fischer and the orchestra to let their collective hair-down. A rousing account of the 'Scherzo à la Russe' in its orchestral version of 1944 is followed by a sinuously sultry account of 'Tango' (1940) originally written for piano but played here in the Stravinsky approved orchestration by Felix Guenther.

As has already been indicated the 5.0 DSD recording is terrific, with a spread that extends way beyond the front speakers and to the rear of one's listening room. The bass drum is more naturally integrated into the orchestral texture than on the recent BIS recording though it definitely does not lack impact. This is something that will please some listeners and maybe disappoint others – à chacun son goût.

The acoustic of the Palace of Arts Budapest provides just the right degree of reverberation to add warmth to the sound without masking orchestral detail and in multi-channel an additional sense of space is convincingly created. Unlike the recent recording of the Rite on BIS, this one helpfully provides a separate track for each of the ballet's 14 sections. The 'Firebird Suite' is also allotted 7 tracks.

How ever many recordings of these works you have in your collection you should certainly investigate this one – another undoubted triumph for Channel Classics.

Copyright © 2012 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

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Sonics (Multichannel):

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