A Firebird to relish

When I wrote in April about Dudamel's then new recording of Stravinsky's complete Firebird ballet with some enthusiasm here.

I'm glad I hadn't heard then the version which has been on my mind and in my ears repeatedly in the last week: the Dude might not have caught my ear so easily. 

It's an authentic performance - and if you don't believe in such things for works of the turn of the previous century then listen more closely.  It's a staggering performance of real power, vitality and delicacy by turns and for me the score has never been so well presented much of this is aided by the individuality of the instruments. I recall it was David Hurwitz who used to write with gusto about the merging of trombone and horn sounds in most Western orchestras.  In this recording the delineation of each woodwind voice is superb and the richness of Stravinsky's orchestration is revealed.  Follow it with the score and it becomes a wonderland of orchestral sonorities you've not encountered this side of 1930. The playing is first rate (and I imagine not easy) and as dramatic a feeling for the story line as you'd want to hear.  A superb CD which I only wish I'd come to it sooner: it was released in 2011.  The only thing I'd ask for in future releases of downloads is a pdf of the sleeve notes which give us players names and some background.

The band is the marvellous Les Siecles and the conductor the inspired and urbane François-Xavier Roth - I will return to some of their work on CD which led me to this recording but here's what I thought of their French music + Rite of Spring at this year's Proms.

The closing 20 minutes or so of this Firebird live recording are some of the most exciting Stravinsky you'll hear and has a vivid atmosphere of a performance.  The CD and download also has those contemporaneous "hits of the day" by Glazunov, Arensky etc that Stravinsky may have been influenced by.

You can buy it and audition it via iTunes HERE

But don't take my word for it - turn the volume up and brace for this extract on video.


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