Sunday, September 14, 2008

Satisfying Stravinsky from an unusual source

Ionarts reviews the new Rattle/BP disc of some of Stravinsky's symphonies. I've got the Boulez disc, so I don't think I'll be running out to get Rattle's entry.

What I will do, however, is listen to Celibidache's 1984 performance of the Symphony of Psalms, coupled with a Fauré Requiem, as part of EMI's Celibidache Edition.

I don't go so far against the late Director Celibidache as to call him a quack or fraud. I will say, however, that there was music that was suited to his style and music that wasn't. He had interesting things to say about Bruckner and his Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem is among my favorites of a work that I could not do without at times.

His Symphony of Psalms, while lacking the same incredibly precise rhythmic articulation and clarity of Boulez' recording, presents the content of the Psalms a little better in my mind. Indeed, as Ionarts notes, the Symphony was written in a spiritual and religious context, at least in terms of Stravinsky's life. Celibidache represents that nicely.

Another work, out on EMI's bargain series, that does the religious content justice is Franz Welser-Möst's 1996 Bruckner Te Deum. It's coupled with an Alpensinfonie which, given my antipathy to that work, is useless ballast, but it's hard to justify seven dollars for about twenty minutes' worth of music, even music as sublime as the Te Deum. Pick it up, it's good. It might be my favorite modern version - all time honors go to Karajan's 1960 Salzburg performance on EMI, too.


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