One of the big events of 2017 was the opening of the Hamburg Philharmonie. Krzysztof Urbański and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra gave inaugural concerts there that made a lasting impact on audiences and critics alike. On this occasion, the Polish conductor chose to record one of the works closest to his heart, The Rite of Spring: "Stravinsky invented a new language. For me, The Rite is not a score, but a painting: on each page, I see Matisse, Gauguin, the Fauve painters . . . It’s an explosion of colours, emotions, and surprises too: if you don’t know the piece, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s so suggestive that you don’t need to do all that much with the orchestra, the magic is written into the music. . .
Stravinsky famously dubbed the 1964 Berlin “Le sacre” a pet savage rather than a real one, blaming the tradition from which the performance came (German and unduly sostenuto) more than the performance itself for its obvious shortcomings…
By the time the work went back into the recording studio in November 1975, it was a performance of astonishing intensity. What is on the finished record is an uninterrupted final take of a reading that no longer cloys the appetite in feeds.
Richard Osborne: “Herbert von Karajan – Life in Music”