Simon Rattle

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring; Petrushka; The Firebird; Apollo

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AllMusic Review by

For dedicated fans of Simon Rattle who missed them the first time around, here once again are his mid-'80s EMI recordings with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra of Stravinsky's four most popular ballets: The Rite of Spring, Petrushka, The Firebird, and Apollo. Given the English conductor's later reputation for blazing intensity and passionate individualism, perhaps the most surprising thing about these performances is their lack of eccentricity. Indeed, they are what might fairly be called conventionally modernist. Rattle's textures are balanced toward the brass, his colors tend toward the primary, and his rhythms are driven though his tempos are never actually all that fast. As for interpretations, Rattle avoids excess and aims straight down the middle. His Rite of Spring is more brash than bold, his Petrushka more sparkle than soul, his The Firebird more bombast than blast, and his Apollo lovely but too light and insubstantial. The City of Birmingham Symphony does its best with the score, and though the most difficult pages are beyond them, its determination and enthusiasm sometimes elevate the performances above the merely professional. Pianist Peter Donohoe turns in a creditably concertante reading of the difficult solo part of Petrushka. Unremastered, EMI's early digital sound is colorful, but cool and glassy.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
The Rite of Spring
1 08:07 Amazon
2 06:09 Amazon
3 01:39 Amazon
4 04:54 Amazon
5 02:59 Amazon
6 06:04 Amazon
7 05:12 Amazon
Petrushka
8 07:19 Amazon
9 02:35 Amazon
10 04:35 Amazon
11 03:36 Amazon
12 03:13 Amazon
13 01:11 Amazon
14 02:40 Amazon
15 01:16 Amazon
16 01:05 Amazon
17 02:06 Amazon
18 01:33 Amazon
19 00:48 Amazon
20 00:55 Amazon
21 02:07 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
The Firebird
1 02:33 Amazon
2 01:33 Amazon
3 02:13 Amazon
4 01:31 Amazon
5 00:59 Amazon
6 06:15 Amazon
7 02:25 Amazon
8 02:37 Amazon
9 01:14 Amazon
10 04:47 Amazon
11 01:24 Amazon
12 00:04 Amazon
13 01:22 Amazon
14 01:06 Amazon
15 01:09 Amazon
16 01:10 Amazon
17 00:34 Amazon
18 00:46 Amazon
19 04:36 Amazon
20 03:20 Amazon
21 00:59 Amazon
22 00:05 Amazon
23 01:19 Amazon
24 03:26 Amazon
Apollo
25 05:13 Amazon
26 02:58 Amazon
27 04:15 Amazon
28 01:25 Amazon
29 01:12 Amazon
30 01:38 Amazon
31 02:35 Amazon
32 03:50 Amazon
33 03:25 Amazon
34 03:31 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick