Apparently, Virgin Records' accountants did their projections for business for the fiscal year ending 12/31/91 and discovered a surplus profit for which they would have to pay the exorbitant, not to say extortionist, British taxes. So they rushed up to the president of the company who decided to spend that money on a recording project that would be sure to lose money. So the president of the company went to the director of artists and repertoire if he could contrive such a project. And the director of A&R immediately replied that he knew exactly the project: let Kent Nagano conduct Stravinsky's The Firebird.
Okay, maybe not. But it's hard to imagine another set of circumstances that would make it possible for this Firebird to get recorded and released. Because this is without a doubt the most pointless and meaningless recording of The Firebird in years. Indeed, except in the largest possible meaning of the work, this is hardly The Firebird. The outlines are there, but the details are missing. The rhythms are soft, the colors are dim, the melodies are dull, the harmonies are dreary, and the drama is nonexistent. Nagano's interpretation, if you can call it that, has no sense of momentum and no sense of direction. One sometimes gets the uneasy sensation that if the pieces in the score were arranged in a different order, it wouldn't make any difference to Nagano. Worse, one gets the horrible sensation that if the London Symphony wasn't playing, the piece would have broken down and stopped. This sort of recording does no one any good.