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    Stravinsky: The Rite Of Spring - Sir Charles Mackerras, London Philharmonic Orchestra 9
    Adoration Of The Earth / The Sacrifice / Fireworks, Op.4 / Circus Polka / Greeting Prelude

    An initial disclaimer seems to be in order. This is a site that reviews primarily rock and pop albums. Some jazz and country, quite a bit of folk music..... but classical? Surely this is an entirely different thing? Well, yes. It is, that's right. But, music forms don't have to be, and aren't, exclusive things. If you love classical, what's stopping you really digging 'Honky Tonk Woman' by The Rolling Stones as well? Answer? Nothing at all! And of course, it works the other way around. Well, I hope so, or this reviewer here is gonna start feeling really odd. One thing I've noticed listening to 'The Rite Of Spring'. You know, a few rock albums have a thing on the sleeve occasionally, "best listened to loud" - and the same applies to 'The Rite Of Spring' - we have dynamics here! And you know, I'm just gonna describe this piece of music right how I hear it. It might not be a fashionable approach, but I never was one much for fashion. Upon the debut of this piece, way back in 1913, there were actual riots during the performance and reviews were hostile. Stravinsky had created something a little new. 'Strange' music, they called it. And of course, Lolita dancers went around the stage jumping around.... choreography.... but all I have here is the music. The rest is imagination, and this is very imaginative music able to places pictures and unwelcome images into your mind. The initial pretty and quiet music gives way to screeching strings and pounding drums and a sense of abandon. Be scared, I was. A part titled 'Spring Rounds' approximately eight minutes into the piece quietens down the menacing strings and everything is calm for a second, although always with an undercurrent of something terrible about to happen at any moment. Sexual abandon? Yeah, you can have something evil and then beauty, both together. Working against each other, and it seems to me there are all sorts of things working against each other here, deliberately so. The build up of tension, the holding and then releasing, is important to this work.

    'Procession Of The Sage' is cutting and goes right through you, switching to utter quiet with percussion punctuating only for slashing brass and strings to cut you in two once more. 'The Sacrifice' opens with a musical setting the scene interlude before the tension is built once again. This introduction or prelude last for four minutes or so before a section of mysterious romance titled 'Mystic Circle Of The Maidens' enters the fucking fray. Sinister urges never far from the surface, even during sections of near silence. Announcements, poetry.... the awaited noise and violence arrives eight minutes into 'The Sacrifice' and the advice 'best listened to loud' really pays dividends, the proceeding quiet disquiet still not preparing you for such a thing - a violence and anger. Hair raising? Too right. 'The Rite Of Spring' is very percussive in quality - the percussion working to structure the entire piece. The quiet to loud sections reinforce this. Everything concludes in a flurry of violence and bashing primal drums, and you know exactly what's going on..... even if you don't. This isn't pleasant music, but it seems to me it wasn't meant to be. It is impressive though, passion and dynamics such as this? Sheer violent rage?? Emotions expressed through music, expertly.

    top of page this page last updated 17/05/07

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