One of the seminal moments in the history of Western music is undoubtedly the premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, whose provocative choreography and primal rhythms incited the Parisian riot of 1913.The work is no less stunning nearly a century later, and while it may no longer have the impact to bring crowds to riot, it still has the ability to captivate and ensnare. This Exton album with Jaap van Zweden and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra is a prime example of just how powerful it can be in the right hands.The NRPO and van Zweden offer a performance that is nothing short of stunning. The massive orchestra operates as a single entity, producing impeccably precise rhythms, moments of stark stillness, enveloping fortissimos, and breath-stealing pianissimos. Contrasting with these primal sacrifices is Stravinsky's neo-classical opera Apollo. While it's a bit of a surprise Exton chose to end the album with this slightly less impactful ballet music, van Zweden and the NRPO's performance is every bit as sublime with beautifully lyrical strings and hushed woodwinds. Exton's sound is clear and powerful. Listeners employing a multichannel SACD player are in for a special treat with The Rite of Spring, in which they are thrust to the center of the orchestra and surrounded by its massive sound.
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Review by Mike D. Brownell
|The Rite of Spring - Complete Ballet|
|Apollon Musagète Ballet Music|