Gergiev's is a Rite of Spring with a difference. He stresses the primitive barbarism of Stravinsky's groundbreaking score–the strange wheezings of the winds, the wild yawps of the tubas, and the deep rumblings of the bass drum. It's a Rite that stands out at a time when so many internationalized western orchestras give the piece an overlay of sophisticated polish that can rob it of the shock factor that drove the audience at the Paris premiere to riot. There are also numerous personal touches that can be controversial, such as the pause before the final chord, which may bother some but which work in the context of the interpretation. Gergiev's Rite faces strong competition from recorded versions by Markevitch, Dorati, Monteux, and Stravinsky himself, but it's definitely among the top choices. The Scriabin's less compelling, though still fascinating. Gergiev's approach tends to sound sectional, as the overall line is subordinated to momentary thrills. –Dan Davis
"Truly great performances; Bernstein at his magnetic best." - Recording of the Month; www.musicweb-international.com
The Firebird is an exciting one-hour dance special based on the mystical Russian folk tale of enchantment and love, and is set to Stravinsky’s fantastical ballet score. This adaption of James Kudelka’s masterpiece for the stage, combines classical ballet with magical visual effects.
Mehta's is a performance of extremes, of tempo as well as dynamic, and the CBS recording—which has oddities of balance but which in general is more spacious and less closely focused than one expects on this label— underlines the contrasts.
Overall the sound is breathtakingly vivid with tremendous impact but plenty of space round it, so that the heavyweight bass drum and multiple timpani beats leading into the "Glorification of the Chosen One" in Part 2 are as shattering as I have ever known them, matching the violently immediate recordings of Solti (Decca) and Abbado (DG).(Edward Greenfield, Gramophone, July 1978)
Even in these days of super-efficient Rites and Petrushkas, Boulez can still find in these scores many subtle and beautiful details that are lost in the rush or the brilliance of some showier readings, and his precision of ear is audible on page after page.