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  Telarc -
  Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring, Nielsen: Symphony No. 5 - Paavo Järvi
  Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring, Nielsen: Symphony No. 5 Op. 50

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Paavo Järvi (Jarvi) (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 12 show all

Stravinsky - Paavo Järvi        

Reviews: 7 show all

Review by akiralx January 6, 2005 (11 of 14 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Very much a disc of two halves - the Rite of Spring is well played but sounds really too comfortable compared to other fine versions by Markevitch, Boulez, Karajan, Muti and Inbal - among others. The sound too lacks impact with a low transfer level. This work really needs more aggression to come into its own than we get here.

However the Nielsen Fifth (probably his best symphony) is much better, more abandoned and visceral, and the sound is more vivid with greater presence - and it seems to be 'cut' at a higher level than the Stravinsky. This is comparable with Blomstedt on Decca and is a solid recommendation.

Both recordings (made a month apart in early 2004) make discreet use of the rear channels although the Stravinsky seems more loaded towards the fronts, so the Nielsen is the finer recording sonically as well as interpretatively - it rates below the very best SACDs I have from a sound reproduction viewpoint, but is still good.

So forget the Rite, there are just too many better performances around, but the Nielsen is worth investigating, a pity it comes yoked to the Stravinsky.

The ratings I give reflect the imbalance here: the Nielsen is much the better of the two, and probably rates at least 4 stars for performance, and similar for sound.

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Review by September 29, 2004 (10 of 13 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A very impressive Rite. Immediately impressive is Jarvi’s ear for sonority and rhythmic elan; not to mention his orchestra’s incredible virtuosity. The Cincinnati bassoonist opens the piece with a refreshingly contoured solo in the introduction. The woodwind-dominated dialog that follows is unusually expressive. Beware when the “Harbingers of Spring” starts: those famous chugging strings aren’t as loud as you might be used to, they’re heard as one would hear them in the concert-hall; if you’re addicted to unnaturally loud, close-miked strings, ala Muti/Philadelphia/EMI, you’re going to be disappointed. Don’t be. In the “Game of Abduction,” the orchestral execution—horns and woodwinds especially—is such that the section has an incredible sense of urgency. “Spring Rounds” opens with sufficient groan, and when the section is repeated with a splendidly present bass drum and gong, a revelation: one can hear the off-beat dialog, (trombones, bassoons), quite clearly; I’ve never known it was there. The bass drum crescendo that introduces the “Dance of the Earth”…wow. Startling. The finale of part one is thrilling. In surround it’s so nice to hear such grand noise with such spaciousness. A friend remarked that the proceedings were much less nerve-wracking in surround.

The introduction to Part II is where one will hear Stravinsky's orchestral sonorities afresh. The full orchestral outbursts that slither down the scale are particularly impressive. What I found most memorable about the final set of dances was that they actually felt ‘dance-like,’ rather than ‘leviathan-like.' The “Sacrificial Dance” is especially lithe, (if you can call it that); as Jarvi and his orchestra really have a grip of the overall line, rather than simply ‘nailing’ each new-metered measure. The final upward swish of woodwind, signaling the adolescent’s death, is vivid in its expiration.

With the Rite, (and Nielsen’s Symphony #5, of course), audiophiles are going to be found drooling in ecstasy on the floors of their listening rooms, especially those who are fetishistic about suspended cymbal decays and little bells from the percussion section. Wait until you hear the Tempo giusto mov’t of the Nielsen 5th! I thought the earlier Telarc/Jarvi/Stravinsky recording of “Petrouchka’ and the Firebird Suite was excellent. This one is even better.

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Review by Jonalogic August 25, 2010 (10 of 19 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Following my recent strand on over-marking, these performances are going to get what they deserve, without any gloss.

I think the the other reviewers are being far too kind to these quite dismal performances. Jarvi is a very understated conductor, to put it mildly. This Rite is actually boring - quite possibly the worst I have ever heard on vinyl, CD or SACD over the past 50 years. With about 20 or so recordings of this piece in my collection, that's quite an achievement. Although the playing is safe and competent throughout, this reading is utterly without menace, violence, thrill or excitement. It makes Karajan's limp and justifiably harangued performance of the vinyl age (his first one) sound like a riot of excitement by comparison...

Stravinsky’s comments on that particular effort… "tempi di hoochie-coochie" and "duller than Disney's dying dinosaurs" seem tailor-made for Jarvi’s dull-as-ditchwater version 40 years on. Ouch, now THAT's what I call 'telling it like it is'. Nice one, Igor.

This one wouldn't cause a riot in a dustbin, which is where this disc was filed after one audition.

Rites on SACD are tricky. Janson's with the Concertgebouw shares the overall limpness and safe quality of the Jarvi, although it's better played by the RCO. Stravinsky's own version on CBS/Sony in wonderful, but poorly recorded. Great performance but poor sound also amply describes the fine Cleveland/Boulez version on CBS/Sony.

Actually, I find the RPO/Simonov version on Membran the only extant version on SACD graced by both a good performance as well as good (although blatantly multi-miked) sound. I have high hopes for the forthcoming Litton/Bergen version on BIS. I can guarantee that Litton will not underplay this piece.

The Nielsen 5 on this disc is a better reading, by far, than the Stravinsky. It's actually competent. But compare with Horenstein, Schmidt or Blomstedt shows what's missing here. It sounds too generic, and utterly lacks the required icy Nordic passion. So, zero stars for the Rite performance and 3 for the Nielsen- giving 1.5 stars overall.

The sound? I am not a great fan of Telarc sound, it's well known (excepting some of their fine earlier Soundstream recordings). However, they give the Rite generally accurate sound with truly staggering dynamic range and fine-sounding low percussion. In common with many of their later recordings, however, it's very distant and softened in the process i.e it's not transparent enough for fully illuminated back-stage.

The Nielsen has noticeably better sound quality - somewhat closer in perspective and tonally far more even and transparent. So the sound gets 5 stars for the Nielsen and 4.5 for the Rite. But this can't compensate for the wholly deficient performances. of course.

I would, perhaps, be kinder to Jarvi if he hadn't done this before. I regard him as a serial killer of fine 20th century music. I present as evidence his dreadful Bartok Concerto for Orchestra (albeit shared with a far better Lutoslawski) on Telarc, plus his flaccid Britten Young Persons' Guide. All of these all-time lows in performance. I rest my case, m'lud.

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Works: 2  

Carl Nielsen - Symphony No. 5, CNW 29 Op. 50
Igor Stravinsky - Le sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) (1913, rev. 1947/67)