Jonathan Nott

Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps

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This exciting presentation of Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps and the Symphony in Three Movements is one that audiophiles should snap up for its splendid sound, and fans of Stravinsky's music will enjoy for its thrilling energy and the organic flexibility of the interpretations. Jonathan Nott and the Bamberger Symphoniker recorded both works in multichannel surround-sound, and the orchestra is spacious and vibrant on this hybrid super audio CD, with absolutely clear details and wonderful sonorities. As a showcase for what technology can offer and for how good Tudor's state-of-the-art reproduction can be, this recording is first rate. But the music matters most, and Nott's account of Le Sacre is decidedly one of the finest to appear on SACD. This work is famous for its stabbing rhythms and brutal dissonances, so it takes an original mind to conceive of this ballet linearly, and Nott's fluid, connected approach lends it a unique coherence and beauty. This is not to suggest that any of the violence is lost -- for instance, the hammered polychords of Augurs of Spring are as fierce as any -- but in quiet passages where Stravinsky clearly intended his dissonant counterpoint to be played smoothly and heard clearly, Nott's unerring sense of line carries the day and makes sense of the interlocking parts and complex harmonies. Of course, Le Sacre is most compelling in its savagery, especially in the Danse sacrale, and Nott is unstinting in delivering electric thrills. The Bamberger Symphoniker has a marvelous cutting attack, especially in the brass and percussion sections, so listeners will feel all of Le Sacre's shocking effects. The Symphony in Three Movements is a more temperate work of Stravinsky's neo-Classical phase, and it will be unfamiliar to audiences schooled only on the early ballets. Still, this is a nice companion piece to Le Sacre, for it has some of the earlier work's abrasiveness and dark energy, and shares many of its hypnotic rhythms, particularly in the bristling first movement. Highly recommended.

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