The years have seen Pierre Boulez record for CBS, Erato, EMI, and Philips, among other labels, but his most consistent and critically praised work has appeared on Deutsche Grammophon, where he has conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, and his own Ensemble InterContemporain in many successful performances. These ensembles are heard on this trimline, six-CD box set of Igor Stravinsky's major works, which brings together Boulez's recordings of L'oiseau de feu, Petrushka, Le Sacre du printemps, L'histoire du Soldat, the symphonies, concertos, and other works, recorded between 1980 and 1996. As one of the leading champions of modernism, first as a composer and essayist, then as a prominent conductor, Boulez is regarded as an authority on Stravinsky's oeuvre, and it is difficult to imagine many conductors who have a better understanding of the technical and stylistic issues that affect performances. Boulez is also famous for his precision and meticulousness, which make the details stand out clearly in the rhythmically complex and texturally dense orchestral scores of the ballets, and yet seem so delicate and exact in the concertos and pieces for smaller ensembles.
The fifth recording of Tugan Sokhiev and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse on naïve is dedicated to one of the major music works on the 20th century, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, which will turn 100 years in 2013. Also featuring the brilliant piece The Firebird and offering illustrations that enhance the special atmosphere of those works, the set includes a bonus DVD with a live performance of Rite of Spring by Tugan Sokhiev and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse during the unforgettable concert that opened last season of the orchestra, considered one of the best French ensembles.
Here's a Symphony of Psalms that successfully captures the spirit and letter of the work–reverence, jubilation, and celebration, as well as specifics of orchestral color and texture. Boys' voices–supposedly Stravinsky's original choice–contribute their share to the bright choral timbre, an effect that works very well. We also get first-rate performances of the Mass and the rarely recorded Canticum sacrum.
Today it is difficult to imagine the impact on audiences at the beginning of the 20th century of Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929) and his Ballets Russes. In celebration of the debut of the Ballets Russes in Paris in 1909, this wonderful Stravinsky evening at the Mariinsky Theatre showcases the original Nijinsky version of The Rite of Spring for the first time on DVD along with The Firebird, both conducted by Valery Gergiev. Thanks to the relentless work of Millicent Hodson, Nijinsky's original choreography has now been recreated, performed by the lead dancers and Ballet Company of the Saint Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre conducted by Valery Geriev, known the world over for his interpretation of Stravinsky's works.