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John J. Puccio
Classical Candor, January 2012

I found [Craft’s] reading of The Rite of Spring more to my liking…he seems positively energized…I enjoyed the disc’s coupling of Stravinsky’s oft-neglected, complete one-act opera The Nightingale…it’s beautifully rendered by all concerned. © 2012 Classical Candor Read complete review



Christopher DeLaurenti
The Stranger (Seattle, WA), October 2005

One of the confounding things about classical music is choosing from dozens (sometimes hundreds) of recordings of the same piece. I haven't heard every CD of Igor Stravinsky's jolting symphonic masterpiece, The Rite of Spring (1911–13), but I've sorted through enough of them to recommend Robert Craft's Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring/The Nightingale (Naxos) as an almost unsurpassable choice.

An orchestral stampede of careening timbres (blaring and blatting horns), pastoral melodies (especially the opening bassoon tune), jarring blocs of sound, and frenzied rhythms, The Rite requires a virtuoso conductor. At the helm of the London Symphony Orchestra, Robert Craft delivers the goods. A long-time Stravinsky friend, aide-de-camp, and musical collaborator, Craft retains The Rite's powerful rhythmic thrust while remaining marvelously attentive to the music's ornate detail.

The Naxos disc has superb sonics, surpassing Craft's admirable 1991 recording on MusicMasters for clarity, depth, and overall punch. Rowdy sections such as "Ritual of the Rival Tribes," "Dance of the Earth," and the apocalyptic "Sacrificial Dance (The Chosen One)" boom with big, broad-shouldered bass drum licks and pounding timpani. And I love hearing things like the scraping râpé guiro in "The Procession of the Sage," which some conductors of The Rite neglect altogether. The Nightingale, Stravinsky's glittering one-act opera based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, rounds out the disc, a bargain at $8 (or cheaper when on sale).




David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, October 2005

Robert Craft's performance of The Rite of Spring, rescued from oblivion on Koch, proves that in the early ballets he can be both accurate as well as exciting. Extremely well played by the London Symphony, seldom have the complex textures in the Introduction to Part One or the Ritual of the Rival Tribes sounded so clear and natural. And yet, in the Dance of the Earth, or the concluding Sacrificial Dance, Craft pulls out all of the stops to really impressive effect. The sonics are excellent, both here and in The Nightingale--this latter a beautiful, neglected piece that sounds much better in its original operatic form than in its later, formally somewhat dysfunctional symphonic dress. Once again Craft leads a superb performance of the orchestral part, and the singers are mostly fine. Olga Trifonova's bright soprano does well by the nightingale, but Robert Tear and Pippa Longworth, as the fisherman and the cook, sound vocally stressed despite being clearly involved in their parts. Still, with transliterated text and English translation, this is a very good deal.






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12:47:26 AM, 30 December 2014
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