Sir Simon Rattle's Stravinsky is lean and mean but never uncoordinated or lacking in symphonic cohesion. The three symphonies are treated with can only be described as outstanding virtuosity, especially the opening Symphony in Three Movements.
Rattle brings out the dark, lurking forces in the Symphony in C whilst the Symphony of Psalms contains some wonderful choral work from the Berlin Radio Chorus who sing with full throated intensity. Again you cannot really fault the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in their playing of the scores with rattle a constant presence in the more difficult parts of the works – you sense his firm and guiding hand throughout.
Simon Halsey is the brilliant chorus master who brings the best out of the Berlin choir whilst the recording is as close as you could get to perfection. Collectors will obviously want Stravinsky's own accounts of these works but the Rattle disc now surely jumps to the top of the pile of recommendations.
Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech