Classical album review: Stravinsky - The Firebird Complete Ballet [SACD]

Barry Forshaw’s take on the classic work on SACD, performed here by Andrew Litton and Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.

If ever a composer wrote music to benefit from the astonishing aural range and dynamic impact of the Super Audio CD medium, it was Igor Stravinsky, particularly in his early Russian ballets.

Thus far, The Rite Of Spring has been handsomely represented in the medium with some splendidly exhilarating performances, but The Firebird - the work that shows more of the influence of Stravinsky’s teacher Rimsky-Korsakov - is yet to rack up similar numbers, at least in modern performances.

But that situation changes with this powerful performance by Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic, which does the most consummate justice to this colourful score.

The final peroration, surely one of the most uplifting passages in all music, has rarely been captured to such exhilarating effect, though some details are recessed elsewhere.

The main work is supplemented by several short arrangements by the composer, including the delightful 51-second Greeting Prelude - a piece to play in the ‘innocent ear’ fashion to friends who invariably smile when they realise what it is based on.