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Symphony No. 6 in A min.

Penguin Guide

Symphony No. 6 in A min.

(N) (M) *** Carlton Dig. 30366 01007 (2) [id.].

Boston PO, Benjamin Zander.

Recorded live, Zander's reading may lack the full weight of some - mainly a question of recording - but, with fine rhythmic control and married to keen concentration, his is a consistently compelling version, which rises to an eloquent account of the long finale, so spacious that a second disc is needed.

Piano concerto in G.

(N) (M) *** Carlton Classics 30366 01002 [id.].

Stephen Drury, Boston PO, Zander -

Stravinsky: Pertushka

With persuasively alive and perceptively detailed support from Zander and his excellent Boston Orchestra, and a warm, naturally balanced recording, Stephen Drury gives an appealingly intimate account of the G major Concerto, one in which vividness and delicacy of feeling are nicely balanced. The slow movement is tender and gentle, to contrast with the dazzling finale - uninhibited, yet carefully controlled so that there is poise as well as exhilaration. The 'live'recording is naturally balanced within a most appealing ambience. No wonder there is enthusiastic applause at the close.

Petrushka (complete; 1947 version).

(N) (M) *** Carlton Dig. 30366 01002 [id.].

Boston PO, Benjamin Zander -

RAVEL: Piano concerto in G. ***

Benjamin Zander conducts a remarkably compelling account of Petrushka which is extraordinarily vivid in detail, yet everything is placed within a natural perspective. There is no highlighting, and Stravinsky's score glows in its natural colours. The Boston playing is refined, yet the ballet's narrative is most atmospherically conveyed. The result is uncommonly satisfying and, if the unusual coupling is suitable, this is well worth considering.

The Rite of spring (orchestral and pianola versions).

(N) (M) o** Carlton Dig. 30366 00992 [id.].

Boston PO. Zander; Rex Lawson (pianola).

Zander's live recording with the Boston Philharmonic brings a hard-hitting colourful performance, directly related to the pianola version with which it is paired: Stravinsky himself in the 1920s supervised the original Pleyela piano-roll recording, which Rex Lawson 'plays' very effectively on a resonant Bosendorfer Imperial. With this pianola system (unlike the reproducing rolls which captured the actual playing of a concert pianist) the piano roll represented a form of transcription of the printed score, accurate in note lengths and time values. The pianolist playing the score back uses pedals to create dynamic levels and accents, and levers to phrase and sustain, and bring the music back to life. The speeds at which everything is presented remain predetermined and unalterable; and here the most striking point on speed is the very fast tempo for the opening of the final Sacrificial dance, markedly faster than Stravinsky's own last - and finest - of his three recordings. Zander suggests (and he offers additional documentary evidence from Marie Lambert, the Russian ballerina, quoting comments made by the composer at the orginal dance rehearsals of the ballet) that Stravinsky intended this faster tempo for the ballet's finale and that he modified the tempo

only when he discovered that orchestras could not cope with the music at his intended speed (even his own 1960 recording contains inaccuracies). There is no doubt that played up to this faster tempo, the Danse sacrale is electrifying, capping a performance which now projects rhythms with biting confidence that defeated professionals three-quarters of a century earlier. The recording is full and vivid if not always as sharply defined as the playing.


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