Stravinsky Rite of Spring
Stravinsky greeted Leonard Bernstein's earlier record of The Rite of Spring with an amazed ''Wow!'' That was made almost a quarter of a century ago with the NYPO (Philips mono ABL3268, 11/59) and should be restored to circulation. There is not a great deal wrong with this performance either except that the strings of the Israel Philharmonic are not quite in the same league, nor for that matter are some of the wind. However, the recording is made in a dry acoustic ambience and though there is no lack of clarity, there is a loss of atmosphere. Each strand in the texture is clearly audible and the dynamic perspective is expertly observed, yet the overall result sounds synthetic. The same criticism might be levelled at the Dorati version with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (also available on CD—400 084-2, 3/83) but the Decca engineers have a more lively acoustic in which to operate.
Turning to virtuoso orchestras, the three versions that lead the field, the BPO and Karajan (DG), the Concertgebouw and Sir Colin Davis (Philips) and the Philadelphia and Muti (HMV), all enjoy the advantage of infinitely better recorded sound. There is no want of impact or detail but with those versions there is the greater homogeneity and finer blend to the orchestral texture missing from the disc offered here. Some readers may be more sympathetic to this as sound than I am, and they can be assured that there is some exciting playing and an atmospheric account (despite the sound) of the ''Action rituelle des ancetres''.'