Feature

Simon Rattle

The Berlin Philharmonic, under Simon Rattle, record Stravinsky's <em>Symphony of Psalms</em>.

Simon RattleStravinsky: Symphony of Psalms, Symphony in C, Symphony in Three Movements (EMI)

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Though the strings are lush and the vocalists technically perfect, the woodwinds of the Berlin Philharmonic are the stars of this CD, said Vivien Schweitzer in The New York Times. Exceptional throughout Symphony of Psalms, “the winds also shine in lithe, tautly energetic performances” of Symphony in C and Symphony in Three Movements. Igor Stravinsky’s three symphonies, composed during his neoclassical period of the 1930s and ’40s, can come off as arid, said Richard Nilsen in The Arizona Republic. Unfortunately, this performance of Symphony of Psalms, under Simon Rattle, does nothing to buck that label. It’s “a bit too Apollonian to be as expressive as, say, the great Leonard Bernstein performance that found the religious spirituality in Stravinsky’s dry notes.” That’s not the conductor’s fault, nor is it that of the musicians, said Jeff Simon in The Buffalo News. Blame it on the sound engineers at record label EMI, who seem not to have the first clue of how to deal with either Stravinsky’s music or the orchestra performing it. “Recording it with such cactus patch acoustics as this is definitely a bit of acerbic overkill.” The performances of all three works are certainly first-rate. “It’s the acoustic envelope that will need some knob twiddling from you.”

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