STRAVINSKY (THE BEST OF) (Alexander Rahbari/ Belgian Radio and Television Philharmonic Orchestra/ Bournemouth Sinfonietta/ Nicholas Ward/ Northern Chamber Orchestra/ Stefan Sanderling) (Naxos: 8.556685)
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'The Best of Stravinsky' brings together the purple patches from the many moods of Stravinsky. It is a perfect disc to ask the question: 'will the real Stravinsky please step forward?'.
It was the riot that took place on the first night of The Rite of Spring that really made him famous. One could ask 'was it real or fabricated', for once having made him notorious, the work never again received that sort of reception.
And yet if Liadov had not been so wretchedly lazy, we might never have know this provocative young Russian. The great ballet impresario, Dyagilev, had asked Liadov to provide him with a ballet on the theme of The Firebird (L'Oiseau de feu), but he couldn't raise the energy to do it, and Dyagilev eventually went to the young Igor Stravinsky.
He was later to dabble in all kinds of musical styles, going back to baroque for the inspiration to write Pulcinella, and then looking forward to the Second Viennese School of twelve-note technique for his later works (not represented on this disc).
The compilation is unusual for Naxos, in that it contains a long excerpt from L'Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier's Tale) in a recording by the Northern Chamber Orchestra, not yet released. When issued it will be coupled with Dumbarton Oaks, and will be the complete original version of L'Histoire.
And what did the critics say when the discs were first released? Classic CD awarded the maximum five stars to Pulcinella, writing \What can I say? Another "another Naxos winner"!!", while Gramophone wrote of Le Sacre: "the qualities that you want in a performance of The Rite are here".