STRAVINSKY Petrushka DEBUSSY La boîte à joujoux
Competition could scarcely be fiercer in Petrushka. Unlike Vladimir Jurowski’s recent offering, this one opts for the 1947 version. The results don’t quite have the nth degree of velocity and panache required to counter the absence of 1911’s glittery glockenspiel and other Impressionistic effects, but there are some imaginative touches, especially from the winds. In bringing the puppets to life the Showman’s magical flute solo is not to be rushed. The Ballerina/trumpeter pirouettes without the awkward underpinning lately encouraged by Mariss Jansons. And if the ejection of Petrushka from the Moor’s quarters seems comparatively sedate, Ludovic Morlot is doubtless being faithful to the printed page. Go to Leonard Bernstein or Simon Rattle if you want more adrenalin, albeit in lower fi. This clean and dextrous live account, shorn of applause by the way, is eminently recommendable.
The toyshop ballet coupling, made without an audience, is thematically well chosen and only those listening straight through in the old-fashioned way might be disconcerted that it follows on with scarcely a break. Although a sophisticated alternative from Rattle’s Berliners remains in the lists, it’s not difficult to guess why recordings tend to get subsumed within more comprehensive Debussy surveys. The playthings of the André Hellé tale are brought to life in comparatively innocuous fashion, the invention oddly thin. Sympathetic listeners will nonetheless be captivated by the delicate scoring and wonder where Debussy’s contribution ends and André Caplet’s begins. Morlot’s orchestra goes from strength to strength, yet those spare timbres were tangier under the likes of Jean Martinon, the tempi slightly more urgent. You might detect more charm there too, despite the woozier 1970s analogue sound.