Stravinsky: Le Chant Du Rossignol, L'Histoire Du Soldat Suite
Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra Chorus & Pierre Boulez
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Highly Sensitive Performances
Boulez is comfortable to stay in softer dynamics for much of this CD, especially in "The King of the Stars" and the Scherzo fantastique. On the latter, it works. The Scherzo shines as it is handled delicately here. The tempos are just right for the listener to hear the details and subtleties. With "The King of the Stars," however, there is virtually no contrast, certainly not the sort that is provided by Michael Tilson Thomas with the BSO (also on Deutsche Grammaphon). Boulez never even bothers to reach forte. On the other hand, "The Song of the Nightingale" is played with a lot of dynamic contrast and vigor. Boulez's metronomic approach works well in many places, most certainly in "Game of The Mechanical Nightingale." Furthermore, the sensitive approach means that the woodwinds are given more prominence, which is a critical factor in this piece. He chooses to almost ignore the chromatic ascent and descent in the climax of "The Chinese March," so listener beware. Where Boulez really takes off is "The Soldier's Tale." Scored for a chamber ensemble composed of violin, bass, trumpet, trombone, bassoon, clarinet, and one percussionist, the Concert Suite is great for those of us who despise the narration. I find it distracting, so I'm glad to be rid of it here. The violin and clarinet stand out on this recording, which is as it should be. I find no disagreement with the tempos, dynamics, or any of the expressiveness of this performance. It's a keeper.
5 stars for Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra. But that chorus.....
City choruses tend to ruin it all; too many old folks with cobwebs stuck in their throats. It would be nice if great orchestras had great choruses to match. City choruses really need some fresh talent to keep their engines rolling. Unfortunately, I'm sure they desperately lack the money for such.
There's my iTunes rant. Everything else sounds fantastic though. Kudos to Boulez.
Formed: 1918 in Cleveland, OH
Years Active: '10s, '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s