STRAVINSKY: The Rite of Spring. The Firebird Ballet Suite
Royal Philharmonic Orch/Yuri Simonov, cond.
Intersound 2829 (B) (DDD) TT: 66:25 

A new series of budget-priced CDs features recent digital recordings by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with an initial batch of releases numbering 60. We will be reviewing many of these on this website in the next few months.Initial reaction is highly favorable. Surely this Rite of Spring is among the better recordings of the music. This is a savage, propulsive Rite of great power; the RPO really digs into this music. Yuri Simonov is known for some fine recordings on Collins Classics, particularly a Wagner collection, and continues to impress. Firebird, here presented in the 1945 version that includes several sections not included in the usual suite, is equally impressive. 

Some recordings in the RPO series are, to me, over-miked, but this one has a fine sense of perspective and extraordinary clarity. Bass has an impact that will delight audiophiles; just listen to Evocation of the Ancestors from Rite. Two of the finest recordings of Rite are those by Sir Colin Davis and the Concertgebouw on Philips, and Karel Ancerl and the Czech Philharmonic on Supraphon which seem to slip in and out of the catalog.. Simonov's new recording is a terrific bargain, something that cannot be said of another CD in this series, an unfortunate issue of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 and Marche Slave with Yehudi Menuhin conducting (Intersound 2811). Menuhin has no idea what this music is about and I cannot think of another commercial recording that has orchestral playing as dispirited as what is heard here. Sonic quality also is substandard; perhaps the engineers were discouraged by what was presented to their microphones.

R.E.B. (Sept. 1999)