Made in 2007, the 125th anniversary of the birth of Igor Stravinsky, this recording of The Rite of Spring conducted by Robert Craft, the composer's amanuensis, is a fitting gesture to the composer and his long-standing relationship with Craft. The disc includes a January 2007 recording of the third and final 1967 edition of the work -- albeit the changes from the 1947 edition are for the most part details of scoring and articulation. And it is interesting and entertaining that the disc also contains Zvezdolikiy, a very brief cantata for male chorus and orchestra from 1911, and Symphonies of Wind Instruments, a very short Tombeau de Debussy for winds and brass from 1922. But Craft has recorded most of these works before, and while his Rite here is masterfully executed by the Philharmonia of London, it could be argued that Craft's earlier performances had more energy and cogency.
However, the inclusion of Jennifer Frautschi's recording of the Violin Concerto makes this disc mandatory for Stravinsky fans. In this wonderfully lyrical work with its brisk opening Toccata and whimsical closing Capriccio enclosing two coolly expressive Arias, Frautschi uses her big tone, warm intonation, strong technique, and supple vibrato to make the most of every opportunity, and Craft and the Philharmonia support her with obvious enthusiasm and affection. So while one might reasonably prefer Craft's 1966 recording of Symphonies of Wind Instruments or his 1991 recording of The Rite, Frautschi's Concerto transforms an interesting disc into a red-hot, must-hear disc.
Although Zvezdolikiy was recorded with the Orchestra of St. Luke's and the Gregg Smith Singers in Purchase, NY, in 1992, the symphonies with the Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001, the Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia in Abbey Road Studio 1 in 2006, and the Rite with the Philharmonia in Abbey Road in 2007, the sound is consistently clear, colorful, vivid, and very present.