For this 2012 release on Naïve, conductor Philippe Jordan and the Orchestre de L'Opéra National de Paris present three classic scores that have been honored in the concert hall and enshrined in the world of ballet, thanks to their historic connection to the Ballets Russes. The choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky for Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune and Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps, and the choreography by Nijinsky's sister, Bronislava Nijinska, for Ravel's Boléro, made these works international sensations in the early decades of the 20th century and gave these pieces cultural significance beyond their musical value. Jordan guides the orchestra through a smooth and luxuriant reading of the Prélude, and Boléro is treated with a light touch that emphasizes the work's charm and coy seductiveness. But the recording of Le Sacre du printemps is truly the album's centerpiece, and it seems to be the most committed performance, not only because of the effort expended in mastering the work's complexity, but also because of the intensity of the musicians' concentration and energy. There are no unusual interpretive changes, and the pacing fulfills expectations (except for a rather weighty Danse sacrale), but the high level of excitement and vivid timbres put this version among many of the top contenders. The reproduction is outstanding, so virtually every note can be heard, and the positions of some of the instruments can be made out in the highly focused microphone placement.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Le Sacre du Printemps|