Wednesday, 1 February 2017

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, February 2017)

STRAVINSKY The Rite Of Spring
Alpha Omega Sound 14-01-12 / *****

This is a live recording of a concert held in Hong Kong's City Hall Concert Hall on 17 October 2013 to commemorate the centenary of Igor Stravinsky's epoch-making The Rite Of Spring, which premiered to a famous riot in Paris. Receiving its first Asian performance (and now World Premiere recording) was an unusual transcription of the ballet for 2 pianos and 2 cellos by Italian pianist-conductor Giuseppe Andaloro.

Adapted from the orchestral score rather than the four-hands piano version, there is a symphonic scope to its conception. Giovanni Sollima's cello replaces the famous bassoon solo with an other-wordly quality to its timbre. The cellos produce a wiry tone and are also employed percussively, thus extending the range of sonorities on the pianos. This vivid performance truly brings out the music’s virility and savage intensity.

Also employed for the same forces is Andaloro's arrangement of Ravel's La Valse, a sweeping performance contrasted with the languid and atmospheric stillness to Sollima's transcription of Debussy's Prelude To The Afternoon Of The Fawn for just 2 cellos. The memorable programme is completed by Lutoslawski's witty Paganini Variations for two pianos. 20Th century music has never sounding this engaging or enticing.

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