Pablo Heras-Casado: Stravinsky review — a clear and piercing account of a rampaging milestone

The Times

With the bunting only just removed from the Beethoven party, there’s a new anniversary afoot. April 6 marked 50 years since Stravinsky’s death. We’ve had nearly a century of recordings documenting this modernist colossus, so the big labels have plenty of scope for issuing celebratory boxed sets. Deutsche Grammophon’s (30 discs) is the biggest, while Warner Classics (23) does the most to feature performances from the far distant past. Brand new Stravinsky releases are so far thin on the ground. At least this week brings a clear and piercing account of that rampaging milestone The Rite of Spring from the conductor Pablo Heras-Casado and the Orchestre de Paris. It’s played with the high degree of rhythmic control and technical perfection that has long become the norm in this work, certainly since Pierre Boulez started his mathematical podium dissections in the 1960s. Heras-Casado offers much more than maths, including sinuous, wailing woodwinds. Trouble is, it’s hard to be taken aback by the music’s violence when everything sounds neat and tidy. The album also features a welcome recording of Peter Eotvos’s 2019 violin concerto Alhambra, a kaleidoscopic, ear-catching, playful affair inspired by the palace in Granada with Isabelle Faust’s fleet-footed violin chased at a distance by a ghostly mandolin.