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Stravinsky: Rite of Spring; Persephone; Firebird

Michael Tilson Thomas Audio CD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 36.95
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Product Details


Disc: 1
1. L'Oiseau De Feu (The Firebird): Introduction
2. L'Oiseau De Feu (The Firebird): The Enchanted Garden Of Kaschei
3. L'Oiseau De Feu (The Firebird): Apparition Of The Firebird, Followed By Ivan Tsarevitch
4. L'Oiseau De Feu (The Firebird): Dance Of The Firebird
5. L'Oiseau De Feu (The Firebird): Capture Of The Firebird By Ivan Tsarevitch
6. L'Oiseau De Feu (The Firebird): Plea Of The Firebird; Apparition Of The Thirteen Enchanted Princesses
See all 14 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite Of Spring): Part 1: Adoration Of The Earth - Introduction
2. Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite Of Spring): Part 1: Adoration Of The Earth - The Augurs Of Spring; Dances Of The Young Girls
3. Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite Of Spring): Part 1: Adoration Of The Earth - Ritual Of Abduction
4. Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite Of Spring): Part 1: Adoration Of The Earth - Spring Rounds
5. Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite Of Spring): Part 1: Adoration Of The Earth - Ritual Of The Rival Tribes
6. Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite Of Spring): Part 1: Adoration Of The Earth - Procession Of The Sage
See all 14 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Persephone: The Abduction Of Persephone - I. Stravinsky
2. Persephone: Persephone In The Underworld - I. Stravinsky
3. Persephone: Persephone Reborn - I. Stravinsky

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Here's a Stravinsky set to raise eyebrows. Where is Petrouchka, the standard coupling for Firebird and Rite in collections of the great early Stravinsky ballet scores? Instead, we get the too rarely heard Perséphone, and it's the highlight of the set. Premiered in 1934 to a text by André Gide, Perséphone is a retelling of the Greek fertility myth of the earth's winter death and spring renewal. The tale drew from Stravinsky some of his most delicate and beautiful music in the neoclassical style of the period, a sibling to the ballets Apollo and Orpheus and the cantata Oedipus Rex (it also includes string figures that recall those works).

Stephanie Cosserat, in the title role, is a youthfully persuasive narrator, very different from Vera Zorina's oracular reciter on Stravinsky's own recording. Stuart Neill's tenor is a big plus, and the orchestra and chorus play and sing with involvement. Michael Tilson Thomas brings out the cool tenderness of the score, and the recording, made at a live performance, is truthful. His Firebird is lushly dramatic, and the Rite's barbaric thrust is leavened by some soulful wind playing. Recorded competition in the two ballets is fierce (along with Gergiev's recent Firebird on Philips, there are classic versions by Ansermet, Dorati, Haitink, and others, including the composer) but Perséphone makes this set an attractive proposition. --Dan Davis


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This only concerns The Firebird Aug. 2 2003
Format:Audio CD
This very first ballet by Stravinsky, ordered by Diaghilev and the Paris Russian Ballets, is based on a Russian tale about a magic bird that is captured by a hunter Ivan and that pleads for its release. It all starts with a very immense evocation of the empty tundra in which the hunter walks with careful steps and that he scans with his eyes and ears. The bird appears with a Russian dance that is light, energetic, bright and airlike. Ivan accepts to release the bird in exchange of one of its magical feathers. This whole bargain is evoked in variations on the theme of the bird, variations that are charming, captivating, fascinating to the point of mesmerizing Ivan who accepts the deal. Then this Ivan meets a Princess who is under the yoke of a magician, Kastchey. Ivan accepts to remain with the Princess in order to free her and he is imprisoned at once by Kastchey. But the Princess fascinates the magician with her sensual and powerful dancing that is hammering like the pulsating heart of the poor magician who is entranced and hypnotized into joining the dance. The dance then becomes a devilish macabre farandole out of which the magician cannot get any longer. During that time Ivan has found the egg that contains the magician's soul in a very soft and melodious lullaby that both depicts the soul in its tranquil captivity and the peace surrounding the hiding place of the egg. It is like the empty space of the cosmos that is only disrupted by the power of the bird's feather and its magic that breaks the egg. By liberating the soul Ivan liberates the Princess and himself and this cosmic void gets some musical flesh back as if the dance of the bird reappeared in the vast immensity of the plain. It is like a triumphing march of the liberated heroes to reconquer the world, though the very ending sounds somewhat unharmonic and frightening as if the world contained some new unknown danger somewhere.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Perpignan
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Right of Spring Recording Ever Dec 29 2002
Format:Audio CD
This 3-disc set I think is one of the best Stravinsky purchases any music lover could make. Persephone is awesome, and I love the narration. The Firebird, however, is not the most exciting rendition ever, although I think the superb playing and balance of the orchestra give MTT's interpretation of the music its meaning. The standout in the set is The Right of Spring. Not only do I think it is the best recordings of it ever made, I think it is also one of the best recordings ever released of any work...ever. You will never hear tighter orchestra playing than in SFSO's Right of Spring. MTT knows exactly what he's doing at every moment; every inner voice is heard, and the flow and progression from movements feels so natural yet exciting. For those of you out there who are misinformed about the best brass sections in the country, choosing to side with the archaic has-beens of the CSO, or the egotistical competition junkies that pass for section players in the NY Phil, let me inform you, San Francisco Symphony has the best brass sections right now. Listen to the trombones, and you will hear a demonstration in power and control by Mark Lawrence and Paul Welcommer. The horns demonstrate accuracy as well as perfect blend, and Dave Kreibel cuts through the orhcestra demonically in the Procession of the Sage movement. Then there are the trumpets. Principal trumpet Glenn Fiscthal basically teaches a masterclass on modern orchestral piccolo trumpet playing with this recording. MTT asked Glenn to, quote, "Play as loud as you can" on specific parts of the piece, namely the 2nd, 5th, and 6th movements of Part 1. The effect is astounding. The woodwind playing also sets a new standard for other orchestras to be compared to. Every part blends perfectly, and the soloists are phenomenal. The percussion... Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Recording Oct. 4 2001
Format:Audio CD
Probably one of the best recordings of Le Sacre du Printemps and L'Oiseau Feu and the best recording I've heard of Persophone, Michael Tilson Thomas and the brilliant San Francisco Symphony brings a refreshing new look to classic Stravinsky.
Persophone is an abosolute gem of a work. Rarely performed or heard on the radio, SFS took a chance in putting in on this CD in lieu of the often coupled Petroushka. The soloists are superb.
Le Sacre du Printemps is a challenge for any orchestra, but this group is able to make it seem easy yet full of life. This interpretation can easily be compared to many of the great recordings. The brass are clear and pristine, the strings lush and, when need be, brash, the ensemble playing, succinct.
I have always preferred the full ballet version of the Firebird over the suite for reasons of orchestration and a fuller effect on the lister. There is so much more life in the full ballet, which can be heard with MTT and the SFS. It is dramatic, lush, powerful, full of life, colorful, and eminates youthful exhuberence. The winds in this recording bring such vitality to their parts.
If there were any complaints I would have for the recording, it would be Bernstein's influence on MTT sprouting in the score, from a few fermatas held too long and rubato that didn't seem to work. Nevertheless, the energy that this group puts into the piece is phenomenal and breathtaking.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Overengineered July 13 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
I picked up this set after hearing on the radio an incandescent live performance of Tilson Thomas conducting Le Sacre with the Concertgebouw. What I found on the recording was a Sacre that was a striking sonic experience but was significantly more restrained than the live performance, a complete Firebird that had some flaws, and a Persephone that was entirely captivating.
Aside from the restraint, which brought Tilson Thomas's Sacre back towards the pack of other recordings available, the main problem (or asset, depending on your equipment) with Le Sacre was the engineering. The dynamic range was too great for my (otherwise good) car stereo. The openings of both Le Sacre and Firebird were so quiet as to be inaudible unless I turned up the volume almost to the max, but then the climaxes were deafening. In addition, the bass was overemphasized. I heard reverberating bass drums in this recording I never heard before, and in some places, such as in the final dance, I would have preferred that they blend into the overall sound more than they did.
I much prefer the complete Firebird to the suite, and this recording has it. There is so much wonderful music in the full ballet that is left out of the suite. I was enjoying it a great deal until Katschi's famous dance, where I had a sense that some parts of the orchestra wanted to push the tempo more urgently than other parts of the orchestra did.
In contrast to the othet two works, I had never heard Persephone before. It contains some of the most delicate and lyrical music I've ever heard in Stravinsky, without a doubt a high point of his neoclassical period. In this recording the chorus and orchestra are beautiful, and I loved the meltingly lyrical sound of the recited French of Persephone (text by Andre Gide).
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking
Probably one of my biggest regrets in my life was to be a few months too young to be on this recording with my boy chorus. Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2004 by scifiman5
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Le Sacre, Good for the Others
MTT has done an excellent job on this CD. I give Le Sacre de Printemps 5 stars, it is exciting, pulsating, primal ... a real portrait of a pagan sacrifice. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2002 by philistine
5.0 out of 5 stars Tilson Thomas does yeoman work for Stravinsky again
Like his earlier collections of Stravinsky, Michael Tilson Thomas has again done yeoman service for the composer, coupling familiar works of Stravinsky with lesser known... Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2001 by Keith Peters
4.0 out of 5 stars The rite to an opinion
While I understand that everyone is entitled to their own viewa and opinions, I don't understand how anyone can think this set overrated. Read more
Published on April 26 2001 by Paul Swindale
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice, but somewhat overrated
Having borrowed these recordings, I was very impressed at first by both the performance and the quality of the recording, which probably played a lot in favour of the grammy. Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Three months later-vastly overrated.
I have to comment on an earlier review of mine in which I called Perséphone is absolutely beautiful; it isn't, and not even Stephanie Cosserat's voice can save it after... Read more
Published on Dec 14 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Persphone, especially: WOW...
I agree that this is an absolutely wonderful set, however I think that the thing that makes it most special is Persephone. Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good recording
I'd likely give this review a higher rating if I liked Stravinsky - I don't. But it gets excellent marks nontheless for the superb playing by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San... Read more
Published on Aug. 18 2000 by Christopher M. Adams
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Recording
This is the best recording of the Rite of Spring on CD ever! The engineering is top notch (much better than most recordings these days), which befits the Rite and the Firebird. Read more
Published on May 11 2000 by David Gottner
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