SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

STRAVINSKY: The Rite of Spring; Symphony in 3 Movements – Bamberger Symphony/ Jonathan Nott – Tudor

An OK Rite but a smashing Symphony in 3 Movements

Published on May 8, 2009

STRAVINSKY: The Rite of Spring; Symphony in 3 Movements – Bamberger Symphony/ Jonathan Nott – Tudor

STRAVINSKY: The Rite of Spring; Symphony in 3 Movements – Bamberger Symphony/ Jonathan Nott – Tudor multichannel SACD 7145, 57:00 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

There are plenty of versions of Marilyn Monroe’s favorite classical work on both SACD and standard CD.  This one is spirited but doesn’t have the raw power of some of the more famous orchestras.  The prominent percussion parts don’t connect with the solar plexus as strongly as some of the others out there. My personal favorite is the RCO Live SACD with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

However, there seems to be only one other SACD of the quirky Symphony in 3 Movements.  I haven’t auditioned it, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a fine performance of the work as on this Swiss disc. The Bambergers’ version presents it as the true masterpiece it is, stressing its abstract “pure music” aspects rather than the extra-musical associations which came out of it having been written at the close of WWII (and winning it the subtitle “War Symphony” in some quarters). The work’s Andante movement departs from the usual chiseled neo-classic Stravinskian lines for a foray into almost Hollywood film score ethereal tone-painting.  The third movement adopts a more jubilant and optimistic tone than many Stravinsky works, which some see as his depiction of the Allied victory in the war.  Its concluding bars have long fascinated me, with repeated statements of the composer’s ascerbic, spiky chords, followed by a shockingly unexpected full-blown Hollywood Premiere chord!

Sonics are rich and full, exhibiting the many fine instrumental details which are often lost on standard-resolution CDs.

 - John Sunier




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