Tomita

Firebird

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Equipped with a warehouse of component Moog equipment, four phase shifters, a Roland space echo unit, a sitar (!), and other period electronic gear, Tomita re-enters the Russian classical repertoire with his take on Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (1919 version). As unique as Tomita's idiom was (and still is), this transcription is rather conservative for him, not as startling nor as playful as those of Debussy and Mussorgsky on his first two RCA albums. The by-now-familiar drifting, spacy, phasey Tomita treatment works best on the slower numbers in the suite, like "The Round of the Princesses," the "Berceuse," and the disembodied majesty of the opening of the "Finale." But the "Dance of the Firebird" and "Infernal Dance" aren't nearly as dynamic or colorful as any of Stravinsky's orchestral versions. For companion pieces, Tomita returned to the composers who brought him here, a gorgeous, pitch-bending version of Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" and a ponderous, electronic choir-laden version of Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain." In 2000, the Debussy "Prelude" was appropriately grafted onto the High Performance CD reissue of Snowflakes Are Dancing, now with enveloping surround sound as a way of approximating the four-channel version of the LP.

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