Jukka-Pekka Saraste

Stravinsky: L'Oiseau de Feu; Scherzo fantastique

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Stravinsky's early ballet The Firebird was written for the same group of Paris-based Russians who just a few years later would shock the world with The Rite of Spring. The work features a huge orchestra that the young Stravinsky (the work was composed in 1910) handled expertly. The ballet conflated two Slavic folk tales, one about the titular magic bird and the other about a magician. The result is a hyperkinetic series of highly atmospheric events that both challenges an orchestra's specialist players and demands a lot of the conductor. The ballet was a genuine orchestral showpiece in the days of big-name conducting superstars, and the good news here is that the Symphony Orchestra of the West German Radio Cologne under Jukka-Pekka Saraste shows very few chinks in its armor as they proceed through the colorful story and rousing finale. The presence of Stravinsky's youthful Scherzo fantastique, very much influenced by Rimsky-Korsakov but hinting at many new things to come, is another plus. The only thing missing is a certain sense of necessary excess in Saraste's measured tempi and gestures, but this may be a virtue rather than a lack for some listeners. The Profil engineering team, working over several sessions at the Philharmonie Hall in Cologne (although labeled "The Cologne Broadcasts," this is apparently a studio recording, not a live broadcast), achieves spectacular results.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
L'Oiseau de Feu
1 02:35 Amazon
2 01:49 Amazon
3 02:17 Amazon
4 01:32 Amazon
5 00:48 Amazon
6 05:43 Amazon
7 02:01 Amazon
8 02:35 Amazon
9 01:10 Amazon
10 04:22 Amazon
11 01:13 Amazon
12 00:04 Amazon
13 01:24 Amazon
14 01:05 Amazon
15 00:59 Amazon
16 00:55 Amazon
17 00:32 Amazon
18 00:49 Amazon
19 04:43 Amazon
20 02:34 Amazon
21 00:56 Amazon
22 00:04 Amazon
23 01:03 Amazon
24 03:01 Amazon
25 12:24 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick