Stravinsky: Rite of Spring / Firebird Suite
Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse
Tugan Sokhiev, conductor
It's a remarkable release for a remarkable occasion. May, 2013 is the centennial of the premier of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" in Paris. While the work no longer incites riots, it has become a repertoire standard, and one that can sound fresh and exotic even today.
Naive marks the event with this deluxe release. The hardbound 90-page book contains a DVD of Tugan Sokhiev conducting the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulous in a live performance of the Rite. Also included is a CD with the same forces performing the "Rite of Spring" and Stravinsky's "The Firebird."
The multi-language booklet features essays about both works, and wonderful two-color illustrations by Sophie Chaussade. Yes, these recordings are also available for download, but get the book. The illustrations and the feel of this quality print edition are worth the investment.
Musically, Sokhiev and the orchestra perform admirably. The ensemble plays with energy and precision. The fast sections in the ballets are amazingly clean, and the articulation makes the music sparkle. The soloists are also first-rate, especially in the Rite of Spring.
The DVD is a 48kbps/16-bit recording, which sounds great, especially through a two-channel system. Intelligent editing keeps the visuals coordinated with the music. We see the soloists when they perform, and -- more importantly -- focus on relevant parts of the orchestra when the entire ensemble's playing.. Just as the conductor's gestures can draw the listener's attention to something that otherwise might be lost in the mix in a live performance, the cameras here do the same.
All in all, a nice commemorative package for an important milestone.