Title - Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps; Debussy: La Mer
Artist - Jaap Van Zweden / New York Philhamonic
For those not in the know, Jaap van Zweden is a Dutch conductor and violinist and who is also currently music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and of the New York Philharmonic.
Zweden has become an international presence on three continents over the past decade with the 2018-19 season marking his first as the 26th Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. As aforementioned, he also continues as Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, a post he has held since 2012.
He has appeared as guest conductor with many other leading orchestras around the globe, among them the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, Orchestre national de France, and London Symphony Orchestra.
The New York Philharmonic’s third release on Decca Gold, featuring Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps (“incisive, blazingly powerful” — The New York Times) and Debussy’s La Mer (“bold, almost cinematic” — The New York Times) conducted by Zweden, is out now and it's a beauty!
The album, Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps; Debussy: La Mer was recorded during concerts in September–October 2018, which was also Zweden’s opening weeks as Music Director.
1. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Introduction (03:37)
2. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Augures printaniers (Danses des adolescentes) (03:25)
3. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Jeu du rapt (01:26)
4. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Rondes printanières (03:49)
5. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Jeux des cités rivales (01:58)
6. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Cortège du Sage (00:45)
7. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Adoration de la Terre (Le Sage) (00:19)
8. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Danse de la terre (01:18)
9. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Introduction (04:24)
10. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Cercles mysteriéux des adolescentes (03:01)
11. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Glorification l’Élue (01:33)
12. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Évocation des ancêtres (00:42)
13. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Action rituelle des ancêtres (03:22)
14. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Danse sacrale (L’ Élue) (04:50)
15. La Mer: Trois esquisses symphoniques: 1. De l'aube à midi sur la mer (09:16)
16. La Mer: Trois esquisses symphoniques: 2. Jeux de vagues (07:13)
17. La Mer: Trois esquisses symphoniques: 3. Dialogue du vent et de la mer (08:42)
The conductor and his Philharmonic continue their revered institutional partnership here in beautiful harmony on this latest recording. Featuring Debussy's orchestral masterpiece La Mer and Stravinsky's groundbreaking Le Sacre du printemps, both pieces are as vibrant, as cultured, as delicate and yet as stirring in places as you could ever hope them to be.
During Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps, I was constantly left with the impression that a great deal of energy was expended at the expense of finesse and color.
Sure there's a genuine is a sense that everyone involved was having a great deal of fun, but Zweden's direction lacks a degree of imagination that is found in a number of other recorded performances that I've personally encountered over the years.
Indeed, and perhaps only for me (although I highly doubt it), the performance succeeds in the more visceral moments than it does in quiet ones.
The artistry of the NYP has to be greatly admired, but of course, they cannot match the subtle colors produced by the great Orchestras that have gone in their stead.
As for Debussy's La Mer, well, in Zweden's hands it is powerful and expansive, yet subtle and lovely. At times crystalline and sparkling, yet always romantic and delicate, this new rendition expresses the music in long sweeps of feeling; with each bar notably full of color and nuance.
As familiar as La Mer is, to go beyond mere scene-painting (wind, waves, foam, etc.) is difficult. To my ears, Zewden's interpretation rises to the very top, but you must be able to open your ears to it.
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