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  Deutsche Grammophon -
  477 619-8
  Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring - Esa-Pekka Salonen
  Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (1947 version), Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain (original version), Bartok: Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Esa-Pekka Salonen (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Recording: Los Angeles (Walt Disney Concert Hall), 01/2006
Producer: Valérie Gross
Project Coordinator: Matthias Spindler
Recording Producer: Sid McLauchlan
Tonmeister (Balance Engineer): Rainer Maillard
Recording Engineer: Fred Vogler

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Related titles: 3

Reviews: 6 show all
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Site review by Polly Nomial September 16, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:  
Unlike Edvin, I love the Mussorgsky piece in the original incarnation and actually prefer it to the Rimsky-Korsakov revision. However, I find the interpretation to be very odd indeed - the dynamics have been flattened out in places and has nothing of the flair that Abbado bought to the piece with either the LSO or the BPO (both RBCD and there is also a very good DVD account with the BPO). Despite the nippy tempo adopted there are moments where the orchestra is not quite comfortable and this is relaxed a bit (to everybody's benefit).

The Bartok fares better for me but the same problems of a lack of dynamic contrast occur as in the Mussorgsky, which (irrespective of the merits of excising parts of Bartok's creation) robs the work of a lot of drama and vitality. It is the opposite effect that recording live seems to have on the LSO these days - boring in spite of the music! It is a shame that DGG did not see fit to include separate tracks for each of the sections identified in the booklet.

The Stravinsky has many felicitous moments (if that is not too inappropriate for such a potentially savage work) and the LAP acquit themselves very well even if Salonen cannot prevent them from sounding too polite. There are far too few moments where the pulse is set racing by such incredible music; again the playing & conducting are restrained as if they fear excitement - I have heard far more thrilling studio accounts than this. Very disappointing really - there are odd moments where the piece threatens to come to life, like the Glorification de L'Elue being truly up to the tempo marked, before Salonen reins the orchestra back to mediocrity.

The real problem for me is the recording & the acoustic. The acoustic handicaps the recording as it manages to make the Philharmonie sound like the model of concert hall's, such is the cavernous sound that masks and exaggerates a lot of the lower material. The recording is an even bigger villain however - if you venture out to most western city centres, there will be at least one car that has a sub-woofer (or more) that each cost more than the car is worth & it is used to pump out deep bass as loudly as possible; that is what the DGG team have provided here - a boom box disc when the bass drum is playing! I do wonder if the mastering level for the .1 channel was incorrectly set when the disc went to press. It is so overly done that this disc is an experience that I will only repeat to show the difference between the poor recording on show here and what a piece like the Rite can sound like on Rhythm Is It! - Soundtrack both from a performance perspective but also a recording one too.

As a side note, as this recording is designed to showcase the new Disney Hall in LA it is very strange that we have a huge number of Salonen (perhaps outside the hall - we are not told) but none of the actual interior of the hall!

Not recommended.

Copyright © 2006 John Broggio and

Review by Ivymike February 14, 2007 (8 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I'm quite disappointed with this release. I'm a big fan of all three featured works, particularly the Bartok and Stravinsky; I own a half-dozen recordings of the full-length "Mandarin" and about forty versions of "Rite." This disc falls very near or at the bottom of both preferred lists.

Other posted reviews have described both as sounding too smoothed-over, too rehearsed. I fully concur. "Emasculated" might be too harsh a term to use but it frankly comes close. There is little sense of sheer menace, of danger, which both works so desperately require.

I've heard more involving sound from analogue sources pushing five decades old. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what it is I don't like about the sound, but for all its smoothness it sounds...fake, to glossy, to engineered. There is plenty of ambience, but little air. How did the engineers manage this? I don't know, unless a heavy hand was used with recording gee-whiz stuff. It's rather confounding. The bass drum is way over the top in a most unnatural way; I appreciate deep, powerful bass but this is just too much.

The most interesting thing on this disc is "Night." Different, unusual. I don't prefer it to the Ravel orchestration, but I'm glad to have experienced it.

I regret having made this purchase. I would recommend sticking with better performances of the Bartok and Stravinsky. For the former, try Abaddo on DG or Boulez on Sony; for the latter, Markevitch on Testament or Simon Rattle on EMI or Bernstein's 1958 version on Sony.

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Review by Oscar January 16, 2007 (5 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
This is a fabulous disc !.

The LAPO sounds in glorious form, with a well integrated sound, and, at the same time each family, or group, of instruments having a distinct personality. Salonen brings all this together, in all 3 works contained in the disc, in a most succesfull way.
The Mussorgsky piece is done in it´s original version, which is welcome, since it is not widely available. It contains extraorinary passages, years ahead of the time in which it was composed, undelining the composers avant-gardism. Salonen paints the music with a fine brush, delivering a very detailed interpretation.
It is a pity that Bartok´s piece is not done complete, so we must be happy with the suite, which sounds glorious, in a very athmospheric reading.
And the Rite of Spring, as it is known, is one of the favorite pieces of Salonen, and it shows. The piece still sound so modern, and yet contains so many passages that call for a gentler sound. The Conductor directs with great clarity and metronomic precission, two qualities absolutely essential for this piece.
The recording has great clarity and a very "warm" sound, the orchestra is heard to great effect and detail which benefits the interpretations of Salonen.

A Must !.

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Works: 3  

Béla Bartók - The Miraculous Mandarin (Suite), Sz. 73 BB 82
Modest Mussorgsky - A Night on the Bare Mountain
Igor Stravinsky - Le sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) (1913, rev. 1947/67)