Today the sole authorized performance version of Le Sacre du Printemps is the 1947 revision, edited by Stravinsky in order to maintain the copyright and hence his royalties. His own recordings including the 1940 New York Philharmonic-Symphony (Naxos 8.112070) claim 1913, which they surely are not. Stravinsky’s amanuensis Robert Craft’s 1995 recording with the LSO is designated as the 1947/1967 version… the master’s final thoughts on the subject. But what were his first thoughts?
In 1919 Stravinsky was asked to correct the original score of Le Sacre which contained a number of copyists’ errors. He agreed to do just that but could not resist the opportunity to not merely make corrections but to re-think and re-compose passages and by so doing created, in essence, the 1919 version. Musicologists agree that we can never know what exactly was in the original score that the orchestra played, or attempted to play on May 29, 1913. Due in no small fact that as orchestral musicians now move freely between orchestras around the globe, the definable character or sound of a particular area or country has all but evaporated. French orchestras once had a “French sound” and Russian orchestras had their sound and so on. Even the choice of instruments has changed. Stravinsky wrote for the timbre of the instruments in the Ballets Russes orchestra, a far cry from that of today’s stalwart instruments.
This live recording uses a reconstruction of the original score, devotedly researched as a labour of love by a number of scholars. Les Siècles is a group of “outstanding young players pooled from the finest French ensembles.” They have access to and play instruments from every period spanning the Baroque to modern eras. Every collector must acquire a copy of this unique and exciting evocation of the original Le Sacre and the effervescent Petrouchka. The translucent recording is of demonstration quality with true perspectives. So if you already have several recordings… get this one. It will be your first.