STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring (Rattle)
The long-term nature of the relationship between Rattle and the LSO had not been formalised when this concert was broadcast by Medici in January 2015 but the auguries were clear and promising to many of us who were present. In the pair of modernist masterpieces from 1910 11 bookending the programme, it was evident that Rattle has lost none of his gift or zest for orchestra-building, even where the foundations are as secure as the LSO’s.
Smoothly grooved it may be at times but Rattle’s Rite is an imposing beast, lacking nothing for impact or sinuous grace; only in their concerts together last September to open his much-heralded tenure did it become clear in retrospect what was missing from this earlier account, where the tone is set by Rachel Gough’s almost indecently sensuous opening bassoon solo. The pair of Second Viennese works are more aptly swathed in diaphanous textures: shot-silk strings and some lovely Viennese portamento from the LSO clarinets wrap around Barbara Hannigan’s Marie in the excerpts from Wozzeck. The climax of the funeral march in Webern’s Op 6 is slightly compressed in the Barbican acoustic, even with post-production work on the original film, but the video direction is as restrained and exact as the movement in the score.
It was for this concert that Hannigan refreshed her double act with Rattle in Mysteries of the Macabre, replacing the leather-clad dominatrix with a naughty schoolgirl outfit: animé or St Trinian’s according to generation and predilection, though both may arouse an uncomfortable have-your-cake-and-eat-it chauvinism as she nails every coo and squawk of Ligeti’s two-faced coloratura parody. It’s probably best just to sit back and enjoy the show.