Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

The Rite of Spring: Part 2: “Mystic circles of the young girls”

While appearing as guest conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1959, Solti led Igor Stravinsky’s opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex and the ballet The Rite of Spring. His friend and compatriot, the film composer Miklós Rózsa, arranged a meeting between conductor and composer. The visit left Solti with regrets: “I had been in such awe of this genius, who was a gentle and kind man, that I had felt unable to ask him about his compositions” (Memoirs, 116). The exception was a query regarding The Rite of Spring. “I had the courage to ask Stravinsky…why he had changed the orchestration and simplified the rhythms in the score…thirty years after the original version was published.” The issue of reinstatement of copyright notwithstanding, the composer replied, “I made the changes because I couldn’t conduct the original version – it was too difficult for me.” The Rite of Spring proved a magnificent showcase for Solti and his Chicago Symphony, who performed and recorded (in 1974) Stravinsky’s brilliant and iconic score. In September 1991, Solti made a second celebrated recording with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam. Shown here is a tempo transition in “Mystic Circles of the Young Girls” from Part 2 of the ballet.

Igor Stravinsky. Le Sacre du Printemps: Part 2: The Sacrifice: “Mystic Circles of the Young Girls”. Perf. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam. Recorded at Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, September 1991 (London 436 469-2). Record Collection CD 10063

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