Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps

Dennis Russell Davies / Maki Namekawa / Sinfonieorchester Basel

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Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps Review

by Blair Sanderson

Igor Stravinsky's 1913 ballet Le Sacre du printemps is most often heard in its full orchestral version, though the composer's arrangement for piano four-hands has become increasingly popular, thanks to the greater availability of recordings. However, it is rare to find both versions in one package, and it is even rarer when both performances feature the same musician. Because Dennis Russell Davies is equally gifted as a conductor and pianist, and possesses the skills to master the technical and interpretive difficulties in Le Sacre, he makes both performances cohere and complement each other in ways that different musicians probably couldn't. In the orchestral performance with the Sinfonieorchester Basel, Davies gives a meticulous reading, albeit a little under tempo for the sake of clarity, and the pacing is comparable in the piano version, which he plays with Maki Namekawa. Both recordings are quite close in the track timings, and they share a similar feeling of rhythmic flow and accentuation, which must be ingrained in Davies. However, there is a certain cautiousness in both performances that diminishes the work's essential violence, and as scrupulous as Davies is to get everything exactly right, these are not among the most visceral and explosive versions available. Fans of this conductor will be fascinated with his results, but there are many other recordings that surpass it in excitement and magnificent sound.

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