Vasily Petrenko / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring; Rachmaninov: Spring; Debussy: Printemps

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Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps usually dominates any program, so the inclusion of shorter works with it may seem like a gamble. However, Claude Debussy's Printemps and Sergey Rachmaninov's Vesna, Op. 20 serve to complement Stravinsky's masterpiece, while also lending their own excitement and power to this 2017 Onyx release. Vasily Petrenko leads the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus in this vernal-themed album, and the performances are spirited and attractive. The lovely dreamlike atmosphere that Debussy evokes in his two-movement orchestral piece comes closest to conventional notions of the awakening of the season, and its magical effects are immediately charming and seductive. Rachmaninov's choral cantata depicts a Russian peasant, represented here by baritone Rodion Pogassov, suffering in the depths of a harsh winter and contemplating murder, only to be calmed by the appearance of spring in all its lushness and beauty. Of course, Le Sacre du printemps is still the main feature of this disc, and Petrenko and the orchestra put all their skill and energy into this energetic and riveting performance. While some of Debussy's impressionistic influence is noticeable in this work, which he called a "beautiful nightmare," its violence was intended to depict the sudden eruption of spring, which Stravinsky described as "the violent Russian spring that seemed to begin in an hour and was like the whole Earth cracking." This is certainly the effect that Petrenko strives for, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic plays with a brutality in the Danse sacrale that is as shattering as Stravinsky could have wished. The stereo sound of the CD is clear and vibrant, though levels are a bit low, so some adjustment of the volume is necessary to hear the softest details.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Printemps
1 10:17
2 6:00
3 16:04
Le Sacre du printemps
4 3:27
5 3:02
6 1:15
7 4:05
8 1:49
9 0:40
10 0:20
11 1:17
12 4:46
13 3:23
14 1:28
15 0:40
16 3:43
17 4:27
blue highlight denotes track pick