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Salonen: Le Sacre du Printemps (APE)

Salonen: Le Sacre du Printemps (APE)
Salonen: Le Sacre du Printemps (APE)

Orchestra: Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen
Composer: Modest Mussorgsky, Bela Bartok, Igor Stravinsky
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Size: 253 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. A Night on the Bare Mountain – Original Version
02. Suite
03. Introduction
04. The Harbingers of Spring, Dance of the Adolescents
05. Mock Abduction
06. Spring Rounds
07. Games of the Rival Tribes
08. Procession of the Sage
09. The Sage
10. Dance of the Earth
11. Introduction
12. Mystical Circle of the Adolescents
13. Glorification of the Chosen One
14. Evocation of the Ancestors
15. Ritual of the Ancestors
16. Sacrificial Dance (The Chosen One)

Worth adding if you already own other versions of Sacre

Like some other reviewers, I was expecting to fall in love with Salonen’s work (given how strong a performance he recently recorded of three major works by Hindemith, and the care he took with those, albeit recorded in a different concert hall with the LA Philharmonic). This version of Le Sacre does have its moments, but I find Gergiev’s performance more compelling (notwithstanding the sometimes recessed sound of the eight French horns), and surely more dramatic. Sonically, there’s enough bass drum content in this recording to probably inspire some low rider to tool around town in a lowered Chevy playing this CD loud enough to crack his own ribs, a result that’s highly desirable in his value system. But the bass drum is more dramatic and even harrowing in Gergiev’s recording, which is somewhat inexplicable yet nonetheless true. In any event, the hype over this recording is somewhat overstated: it is hardly revolutionary.

I also regret to report that Salonen’s performance of the original version of Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” does not compare to the premiere recording by Claudio Abbado, which still comes across as definitive interpretationally, in regard to balance, and with respect to sonic clarity. This is something of a surprise, given how little competition Salonen has to deal with in bringing this work to the public’s attention. My complaint throughout most of my listening was “where are the details? everything sounds muddy compared to Abbado!” Maybe the engineers are still figuring out how to get clarity recording in this new hall — they certainly haven’t achieved it as yet.

The Bartok work is well-recorded, and although I own several other versions, this might end up being my go-to interpretation for the work: it is at least tied with the other top contenders (Abbado’s on DG, and the Complete Bartok Edition version as well).

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