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Igor Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring

BIRNAM 8099214370



Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)

The Rite of Spring (1913)

David Patrick Octet (David Patrick (piano); Sam Coombes (flute, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Diljeet Bhachu (alto flute, piccolo); Brian Molley (B flat clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Calum Robertson (E flat clarinet, B flat clarinet, bass clarinet); Tom MacNiven (trumpet, flŁgelhorn); John Kenny (alto trombone, tenor trombone, bass trombone); Andrew Robb (contrabass); Ole Seimetz (drums)

rec. Castlesound Studios, August 2104 to March 2015 [50:36]

Itís now over one hundred years since this seminal work made its first appearance in Paris on 29 May 1913. Puccini called it "the creation of a madman" and it still has the ability to shock. I expected this CD to be a slimmed-down octet version of the original score recorded by a group of classical musicians but that assumption was made out of self-confessed ignorance. After a few bars it suddenly dawned on me that what we have here is an accomplished jazz group playing their own interpretation, based broadly on the original but with many highly skilled improvisations along the way. The basic framework of the piece remains intact but the improvisations expand the piece to a length of 50 minutes. It never outstays its welcome. This version is the brainchild of Scottish pianist David Patrick and he is to be congratulated on an absorbing and thrilling piece of work. The use of a drum kit and all those jazzy inflections and twists along the way make the music really come to life. Jazz really isnít usually my idea of fun but this is simply terrific.

David Patrick leads an octet of highly accomplished musicians and his piano playing and the clear, precise percussion work are the backbone of the performance. There isnít the same visceral impact that a hundred piece orchestra brings to the table when it pulls out all the stops but there is superb inner detail and an obvious love of the music comes across with great emotional impact. The textures are reminiscent of some of Stravinskyís own chamber works - I wonder if David Patrick listened to them before setting out on this project. As mentioned in the booklet notes, he was certainly painstaking in listening to The Rite in some detail before he set about constructing his own version. That is patently obvious from listening to the finished result. Itís quite remarkable how much of the original shines through with these slimmed down forces. OK, maybe the otherworldly atmosphere of the Introduction to Part Two isnít really captured and the final cataclysmic ferocity of the Sacrificial Dance is missing but everything else is convincingly done and Mr Patrickís orchestration is quite marvellous. The writing for his excellent wind soloists is especially attractive.

The performance is captured in forward, exciting sound. This is a CD that, quite frankly, I didnít expect to enjoy. I have to hold my hands up and say that I was totally wrong. I can also wholeheartedly recommend it without reservation or hesitation to anyone who enjoys this masterpiece. The whole thing is a real breath of fresh air. I think Stravinsky himself would have approved.

John Whitmore

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