Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 4
Sound Quality: 7
These are two of the most faceless Stravinsky performances imaginable. Now as we all know, Stravinsky expected his music to be played literally, but that does not mean totally devoid of character. The playing here is light, neat, crisp, and flat as a pancake. The two outer tableaux of Petrushka simply lack the necessary sharpness of accent. The cellos and basses play their parts but never “dig” into them with the necessary folk-like gusto. The scenes with Petrushka and his fellow puppets stubbornly fail to come to life. His rage, the ballerina’s waltz, the sinister Moor–none of it has any impact. The bass-shy sonics play their part too in lessening the music’s effect.
As for the Rite, there is probably no less savage version available. The only “Printemps” this performance brings to mind is Yvonne, though to push the comparison further would be a disservice to the great French singing actress. Textures are clear and almost fluffy. “Spring Rounds” seldom has sounded so dull; and you really know you’ve got a problem when, during the polyrhythmic “Procession of the Sage”, with the entire 110-piece orchestra going crazy, the loudest instrument is the guiro (a gourd scraped with a stick). Regarding most of Part Two, whose introduction is beyond droopy, the less said the better. The sacrificial dance is truly balletic, and I mean that in the most pejorative sense. The sonics are better here than in Petrushka, but who cares? Gatti needs to develop a spine.
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: Bernstein/NY (Sony)
- STRAVINSKY, IGOR:Petrushka; The Rite of Spring