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Classique - Released April 1, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released April 1, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released November 30, 2012 | Sony Classical

No one would guess from his baby face that Esa-Pekka Salonen is a hard-edged, tough-guy modernist who got his start conducting works by Magnus Lindberg, the enfant terrible of Finnish music. But it is true and his recording career is proof. Nowhere in his discography is there a note of Beethoven or Brahms. Even in so conservative a company as Sony, Salonen has become the resident modernist with discs dedicated to Bartók, Debussy, and Mahler (that's Sony's modernism). He has even amassed an amazing series of Stravinsky recordings since his Sony debut in 1988. Salonen started with Stravinsky's first masterpiece, The Firebird. Rather than use Stravinsky's modest revision of the score, Salonen went back to the original 1910 version with its gargantuan orchestra of quadruple woodwinds, huge brass section plus a seven-piece brass band on-stage, an enormous percussion section that included bells, xylophone, celesta, and piano, plus three harps and 64 strings. Not that all this late-Romantic armament blunts the blade of Salonen's modernism. It only gives him more ammunition to aim at the work's Russian fairy tale heart. Stravinsky later commented on The Firebird that "belongs to the style of its time." This is true as far as it goes. The use of diatonic folk-like melodies for humans and chromaticism for the supernatural does come out of Rimsky-Korsakov's late operas. But those are merely the work's point of origin. Under the right hands -- and Salonen's are the right hands -- numbers like "Fairy Carillon" and especially "Infernal Dance" become threats to musical complacency. Even such pretty little sound toys as the "Round Dances" and the "Lullaby" aren't exercises in late-Russian emotionality; in their own quiet way, they subvert the conventions of Romanticism through Stravinsky's nascent aesthetic of ironic stylization to distance the creator and, thus, the audience, from the creation.
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Classique - Released August 26, 2011 | Sony Classical

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classique - Released April 28, 2017 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released April 26, 2013 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Hi-Res Audio
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Classique - Released April 13, 1992 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released April 1, 2016 | Sony Classical

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If this Gala reissue is your first exposure to Igor Stravinsky's neo-Classical opera The Rake's Progress (1951), postpone listening to it until you've heard a good contemporary recording or two. Stravinsky's first account, recorded at the opera's premiere in Venice on September 11, 1951, is somewhat faulty in performance and deficient in sound quality, and it is mostly of historical interest. It has been superseded by Stravinsky's second, masterful performance on Columbia, and a few others, including Kent Nagano's splendid rendition on Erato and John Eliot Gardiner's popular recording on Deutsche Grammophon. Though it is exciting to hear Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as the original Anne Truelove and Robert Rounseville as Tom Rakewell, the most fascinating performances to follow are Otakar Kraus' suavely diabolical (if thickly accented) Nick Shadow, Jennie Tourel's delightfully grotesque Baba the Turk, and Hugues Cuénod's comically virtuosic Sellem. But Stravinsky's conducting was off, reportedly due to nerves, and the orchestra had to slow down here and there for his benefit, when it wasn't slightly off itself. Add to this the murky and often scratchy sound of the recording, the distant microphone placement, the indistinct pronunciation, the frequent drop-out of instrumental parts, and the annoying use of a piano as a substitute for the harpsichord in the recitatives, and it becomes obvious that this presentation is not ideal for first-time listening. However, those who know The Rake well may get something out of hearing this first recording, if only a finer appreciation of the lead roles' difficulties and the numerous pitfalls in the score.
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Classique - Released April 1, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released April 1, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released November 9, 2018 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released April 1, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released April 1, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released June 12, 2007 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released April 1, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released July 31, 2015 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released April 1, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classique - Released April 1, 2016 | Sony Classical

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