Dorati/Minneapolis SO: Stravsinky Le sacre du printemps (rec. 1959) - Fontana SFL 14009
Jacket GOOD- / LP EX / UK pressing
This outstanding LP from Fontana · Philips (SFL 14009, English pressing*, blue/silver label, stereo) features Antal Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra's powerful account of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps, recorded at Northrup Auditorium, Minneapolis on 15 December 1959. This was Dorati's second commercial recording of a score few musicians knew better than he. Moreover, this was arguably among the finest Sacred Rite of Spring of the early stereo era – over a half-century on it remains a classic.
*Note: It is not clear to me whether this is an English or Dutch pressing – the place of manufacture is stated nowhere on the label, but I believe it to be a UK pressing.
Wrote the critic A.P. in his November 1960 review for The Gramophone: "Four stereo Rites already, and this is the best of them! As far as recording goes, there seems to be no possibility of doubting it. Performance is more a matter of taste: but those who agreed with me that, in mono days, Dorati's Petrushka had the edge on Ansermet's, and that the Firebird he gave us the other day was also, in the last resort, even finer than the Swiss conductor's, will concur. And in comparison with Monteux, generally held to be the finest Rite to date? That was splendid, we all agree: but Dorati is more exciting, more precise, sharper in his colour contrasts, evenmore definite and exact in his rhythms. He is surely the best Stravinsky conductor of our day, and how Sir David Webster can let him pass through London, again and again, without engaging him for some performances with the Royal Ballet, is a mystery.
“This is a performance to electrify and shame anyone who had begun to doubt the power of the Rite today (as the present writer had begun to do, especially after the Sadler's Wells performances). The orchestral playing is fantastically good, marvellously precise. Woodwind and brass both articulate with uncommon clarity (listen, for example, to the bass trumpet in the "Ritual of the Ancestros"; even the Philharmonia player is not so clean). The colours are sharp, prime, definite. The recording staggers one: without being artifically brilliant, it has immense depth and power and range; everything comes through, and registers vividly. The performance is strong, and certain, and passionate, rivetting attention from first bar to last. “
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is GOOD- (Note: This is at the lower end of my grading scale). There is significant edgewear, bumping at corners, creasing, and discoloration. However, there are no seamsplits, bends, owners' markings, or other defects and the jacket remains solid and presentation worthy – overall, still a decent copy.
The condition of the LP itself is EXCELLENT++. Although the surfaces are not CD silent, in general the playback is superb – overall, an excellent collector's copy.