May 29th 2013, marked the 100th anniversary of the premier of Stravinsky's “The Rite of Spring”. It sounds as modern and fresh today as it probably did 100 years ago. This post features one of my recording "newish" recordings of this mammoth of a work.
Russian composer Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) is generally considered to be one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century. Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) was written for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev Ballets Russes company. Reportedly, the modern score for the ballet was so shocking and disturbing to the audience, who responded by hissing, whistling, throwing objects and fist-fighting in the aisles. I feel like that sometimes too, but not while listening to this piece.
While, the Rite of Spring was originally intended as a work for stage, it has achieved greater acceptance as a concert piece. But I must confess that I do enjoy watching a committed dance version of the Ritual of Abduction.
The work is structured in two parts with multiple movements each, as follows:
1. Adoration of the Earth:
- Augurs of Spring
- Ritual of Abduction
- Spring Rounds
- Ritual of the Rival Tribes
- Procession of the Sage: The Sage
- Dance of the Earth
- Mystic Circles of the Young Girls
- Glorification of the Chosen One
- Evocation of the Ancestors
- Ritual Action of the Ancestors
- Sacrificial Dance
There are a number of excellent recordings of this work. The recording by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Simon Rattle was a fantastic addition to the catalogue. This recording is so exciting that it goes to the top of my list. The playing is exquisite in its precision and attack. This performance is pounding, throbbing and thrilling in all the right places (track 2 for example). For those who don't know this work, or haven't heard it in a while, this recording will no doubt interest and inspire you. Remarkably, more than 100 years on, the Rite of Spring still manages to sound fresh and modern.
Which is your favourite version?
Links to the recording:
Below is a youTube video of part of the Rite of Spring conducted by Simon Rattle: