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Christopher Dingle
BBC Music Magazine, August 2012

Invaluable new transfers of Stravinsky on top form as a conductor. This electrifying performance is the finest of his Rite of Spring recordings, and the 1945 Firebird Suite is gripping © 2012 BBC Music Magazine

David Radcliffe
American Record Guide, July 2012

…these recordings were made with the New York Philharmonic with its excellent soloists…These are admirable performance…Mark Obert-Thorn has found more sound in the grooves than was hitherto audible, making this production a worthy addition to the Stravinsky discography. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, May 2012

This CD includes the very first recording of the 1945 version of the Firebird suite. This Stravinsky had prepared in order to safeguard his copyright in the score which had become a matter of dispute following the Russian Revolution. Stravinsky himself had a soft spot for this version, not surprisingly since he earned royalties from it. It was this edition which he recorded later. It really isn’t a patch on the original score. Stravinsky reduced the orchestration—largely on practical grounds—and took the opportunity to tidy up some of the articulation. Much of his revision was an attempt to turn the score into a more neo-classical work in accordance with his style at the time. He made more prominent use of the piano instead of harp and celesta, for example. Oddly enough this was a style which he was shortly to abandon in his metamorphosis into a twelve-tone composer. However this version of the Suite is longer than the more usually performed 1919 suite. It includes two extra movements: the Adagio which accompanies the Firebird’s plea for liberty to her captor the Prince, and the scherzo for the play of the Princesses with their golden apples. So it’s a matter of swings and roundabouts. Do you prefer the shorter suite with the original scoring, or the longer one as revised? Maybe it’s just best to settle for the full original score.

Mark Obert-Thorn does wonders with the sound here apart from the lack of weight in the slashing chords which open the Infernal dance. The result is fairly comparable with Stravinsky’s stereo remake of fifteen years later. The composer is quite brisk with his own atmospheric invention at the beginning. The recording brings out many details that can be lost and Stravinsky gets a scintillating performance of the Firebird’s dance. The chords at the very end lack the ideal breadth and grandiosity, but the fault for this can be laid at Stravinsky’s revision which substantially alters the articulation given to the players.

If you want to hear Stravinsky’s interpretations of his own music while the composer was in his prime, this obviously will be the recording you want. These are…valuable performances, and Mark Orbert-Thorn’s re-mastering has done the best possible with the sound—and, in the case of the 1946 recording of the Firebird suite, a great deal more than that. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Bruce Surtees
The WholeNote, May 2012

A new release from Naxos contains brilliant transfers of the three best known ballets, Firebird, Petrushka and Le Sacre du Printemps (8.112070). This may not have been particularly significant except for the fact that these are the most vital and close to artifact-free transfers of these historic performances to find their way to CD. Somewhat surprising are the perspectives, so clearly heard here. The orchestral playing is immaculate and the musicians are alert and enthusiastic. Stravinsky’s tempi and drive are compelling and a revelation, arguably definitive.

In addition to achieving a miraculous recovery of the details within these old 78s, shaming the other re-issues over the years, an unsuspected mistake in the accepted recording date of Le Sacre has been corrected. © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review

Gary Lemco
Audiophile Audition, February 2012

The Rite of Spring, the complete score…posing few hazards for Philharmonic abilities metrically or in terms of intonation. The new-famous Dance of the Young Boys and Girls…proceeds at a moderate tempo as the forces of burgeoning Spring release pent-up, primal erotic energies…the Spring Rounds section conveys urgency and the kinds of dissonant labor pains inherent in the throes of savage fertility rites. The mystique of pagan sacrifice builds inexorably in Stravinsky’s approach to the second half, culminating in the Elders summoning a young maiden for ritual sacrifice, she who dances herself to death to conclude the ballet. The Introduction exhibits wonderful transparency of effect. The Glorification of the Chosen One projects the requisite passion and uninhibited vehemence, the Philharmonic brass and tympani is apocalyptic convulsions. The martial tempo for the Ritual of the Ancients seems to derive from Debussy’s Fêtes. Acerbic brass and string attacks make the Sacrificial Dance effective, the forces of shamanic self-denial literally in conflict with the will to life. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2012

Stravinsky conducted on disc his three ballets at various points in his life, the series made in the 1940’s generally considered as his most persuasive. The recordings, in fact, differ in mood and tempos over the years to such an extent that he left his music open to a wide range of interpretation on the premise that he was so fluid in his own approach. That in recent years has lead to concert performances that have changed the scores into orchestral showpieces far removed from the requirements of the ballet stage. It would be good to think that these recordings represent his thoughts at the time of composition as they would be ideal for dancers. …the playing of the New York orchestra, which, taking into account that these could not be edited in the 1940’s, is quite remarkable in its precision. The strings dig into some of the most demanding moments with real passion, and at a time when these scores were still seen as fiendishly difficult, the players make light of the challenges. Try, for instance, the ease and beauty of the opening bassoon solo in The Rite. In sum, these are totally indispensable for any Stravinsky collection, the transfers being of outstanding quality, and the booklet notes highly informative. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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