STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring. The Firebird
If you haven’t come across Colombian-born, Viennese trained Andrés Orozco-Estrada you soon will. Appointed Principal Guest Conductor to the London Philharmonic last autumn, in succession to Yannick Nézet-Séguin, he already holds posts in Houston and Frankfurt, productive relationships which his new record label intends to document in old-fashioned depth.
While Orozco-Estrada’s podium antics might be considered overly demonstrative in the Bernstein manner, his energy and musicianship are rather differently focused. The Rite can be rawer and more dramatic than it is here but surely not more beautiful or finely wrought. Helped by the responsiveness of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony and Pentatone’s awesomely precise recording (projecting a wide if surprisingly dry sound stage without much hall resonance), the conductor unearths an astonishing amount of detail at relatively spacious tempi. Those allergic to this score will find the decidedly Gallic results something of a revelation, the bejewelled textures of Ravel never far away. Those who think they’ve heard it all before should think again. And those who want the music to do something else entirely can always return to Bernstein’s New Yorkers in 1958.
Orozco-Estrada’s coupling is more generous than some – Teodor Currentzis offers no makeweight and neither does the latest physical incarnation of that classic Bernstein LP. Choosing the mellowest and most popular of Stravinsky’s Firebird suites might seem unduly cautious, but the performance confirms the team’s ability to alight on previously unremarked elements of a familiar score without the results sounding contrived or sensationalised. Paradoxically the booklet-notes give an exaggerated account of the ‘riot’ attending the premiere of the later ballet. No matter. This is an unexpectedly gentle and wholly beguiling disc.