Symphony No.9 in E minor, Op.95 (From the New World) Stravinsky
The Rite of Spring Mosolov
Zavod (The Iron Foundry)
USSR State Symphony Orchestra
Recorded live in the Great Hall of the Moscow State Conservatoire Dvořák on 17 March 1981, Stravinsky on 24 May 1966, Mosolov on 2 October 1975
CD No: SCRIBENDUM SC 030 Duration: 78 minutes Reviewed: November 2004
Svetlanov New World Rite
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
Performances full of character and individuality, the New World opens with more than usual solemnity, Evgeny Svetlanov highlighting dissonance and timpani most dramatically. The first movements exposition (not repeated) is generally lively, Svetlanov making a pointed slowing for the flute melody. Thus begins a performance notable for much mellifluous phrasing, trenchant attack, and the bringing out of detail in sometimes unexpected ways, and with an ebb and flow, that while not always organic, is always persuasive, Svetlanov displaying affection for the score and drawing wholesale commitment from his orchestra.
This, then, is a thoroughly fresh account of very familiar music, one that vitalises ones response to it. Live the performance may be, but theres obvious editing, not least either side of the Largos famous cor anglais melody, which suggests that the source is actually something of a patchwork (and the cor anglais player fluffs a note!). This movement is spaciously done, the phrasing intense and moulded. However, recorded perspectives are susceptible to change (cuts between dress rehearsal and concert performance?). The recording quality itself, although a tad limited, is also vivid and tangible enough certainly to convey the stinging fortissimos of the brass!
Technical reservations aside, this is an engrossing performance, one with a hard-driven, rhythmically infallible scherzo, Svetlanov introducing lilting contrasts very effectively, and a finale that balances energy and lyricism (even truculence) potently right up to a final fortissimo flourish that completely overrides the composers requested diminuendo and sustained pianissimo; but, then, Svetlanovs interpretation is also at odds with blandness.
The Rite of Spring is a real Russian account (and knocks spots of more recent pretenders in this work). It is also very well recorded with a depth of sound and a vividness of detail and impact that belies its 1966 provenance (although dont expect too much distant atmosphere at the start of Part Two). Svetlanovs weight of attack, his measured tempos and sense of ritual add up to a formidably fine account, one for the theatre rather than the concert hall. The rushes of adrenaline are thrilling as is Svetlanovs liberation and placing of overlooked details. Control and abandon, fervour and clarity, sophistication and paganism are all present, wonderfully blended, played as if lives depended on it.
Sadly, one must report a poor edit in the closing Sacrificial Dance, track 18 at 231, that seems to lose a beat or two of music but this studio account (surely, theres no trace of an audience) is really something.
As an encore, realism replacing imagination, is Mosolovs once notorious Iron Foundry, mechanistic and menacing, and delivered in a (definitely live) pile-driving performance.