This disc of two works from Igor Stravinsky's Russian period brings together an Israeli conductor and a Flemish orchestra on a Spanish label, and if the results are less than entirely idiomatic, well, that's musical internationalism for you. Both L'Oiseau de Feu and the Chant du Rossignol are works imbued with the melodies, rhythms, and colors of Mother Russia, albeit set in the forms and shapes of fin de siècle musical proto-modernism, and while these performances have no trace of a Russian accent, they are still superbly conducted, brilliantly played, and stunningly recorded.
Levi is best known to American audiences as the man who built the Atlanta Symphony, and his 1991 recording of Le Sacre du printemps for Telarc was considered by many to be a strong contender for the "most polished performance" award. The Flemish Radio Orchestra was an all but unknown to American audiences ensemble for the all too understandable reason that it had not previously made any internationally distributed recordings. Glossa was a label best known to American audiences for its intimate recordings of Baroque repertoire on period instruments, and this disc represented its first foray into orchestral repertoire. Together, the Israeli conductor led the Flemish musicians through a very polished, very passionate, and very convincing performance of both the Oiseau de Feu and the Rossignol, which stress neither the works Russian roots nor their modernist branches, but rather their time-honored musical values of coherence and compulsion. As captured in Glossa's amazingly wide and astonishingly deep sound, these performances are fully competitive with the best available.