C1039. IGOR STRAVINSKY Cond. NYPO: L’Oiseau de Feu, Petrushka & Le Sacre du Printemps (all Cond. by the Composer). (Germany) Naxos 8.112070, recorded 1940 & 1946. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. - 636943207079
“These performances, made at the peak of Stravinsky’s fame and influence, were bestsellers both on shellac and vinyl….Mark Obert-Thorn has found more sound in the grooves than was hitherto audible, making this production a worthy addition to the Stravinsky discography.”
- David Radcliffe, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, July/Aug., 2012
“Stravinsky conducted on disc his three ballets at various points in his life, the series made in the 1940s generally considered as his most persuasive. The recordings, in fact, differ in mood and tempos over the years to such an extent that he left his music open to a wide range of interpretation on the premise that he was so fluid in his own approach. That in recent years has lead to concert performances that have changed the scores into orchestral showpieces far removed from the requirements of the ballet stage. It would be good to think that these recordings represent his thoughts at the time of composition as they would be ideal for dancers. …the playing of the New York orchestra, which, taking into account that these could not be edited in the 1940’s, is quite remarkable in its precision. The strings dig into some of the most demanding moments with real passion, and at a time when these scores were still seen as fiendishly difficult, the players make light of the challenges. Try, for instance, the ease and beauty of the opening bassoon solo in THE RITE. In sum, these are totally indispensable for any Stravinsky collection, the transfers being of outstanding quality, and the booklet notes highly informative.”
- David Denton, Feb., 2012
"1940 saw the beginning of a six year association of the New York Philharmonic and Igor Stravinsky as conductor during which they recorded many of his popular ballets and shorter pieces. A new release from Naxos contains brilliant transfers of the three best known ballets, Firebird, Petrushka and Le Sacre du Printemps. This may not have been particularly significant except for the fact that these are the most vital and close to artifact-free transfers of these historic performances to find their way to CD. Somewhat surprising are the perspectives, so clearly heard here. The orchestral playing is immaculate and the musicians are alert and enthusiastic. Stravinsky’s tempi and drive are compelling and a revelation, arguably definitive.
The Firebird is the 1945 suite (26 minutes), Petrushka is a suite of eight sections from the 1911 score (16 minutes) and Le Sacre is the complete 1913 original. Actually 'original' is not exactly accurate. Some half dozen years after the premiere Stravinsky was asked to correct the many copyist’s errors in the existing originals. As it happened, Stravinsky had some second thoughts and new ideas that he substituted for the original passages. In 1947 he would publish a new revision which would take it out of the Public Domain. In addition to achieving a miraculous recovery of the details within these old 78s, shaming the other re-issues over the years, an unsuspected mistake in the accepted recording date of Le Sacre has been corrected."
- Bruce Surtees, thewholenote.com