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Track Listing:

Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps / Part 1: L'Adoration de la Terre - Introduction
The Augurs Of Spring: Dances Of The Young Girls
Ritual Of Abduction
Spring Rounds
Ritual Of The Rival Tribes
Procession Of The Sage
The Sage
Dance Of The Earth
Part 2: Le Sacrifice - Introduction
Mystical Circles Of The Young Girls
Glorification Of The Chosen One
Evocation Of The Ancestors
Ritual Action Of The Ancestors
Sacrificial Dance
Bach: Toccata & Fugue In D Minor, BWV 565 - Arr. Stokowski
Bach: Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578 The Little - Arr. Stokowski
Bach: Passacaglia & Fugue In C Minor, BWV 582 - Arr. Stokowski
Stravinsky: Pastorale - Arr. Stokowski

Yannick Nezet-Seguin :

Stravinsky & Stokowski

The Philadelphia Orchestra
under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin
record new Stravinsky | Stokowski disc
on Deutsche Grammophon 

The Philadelphia Orchestra, under the direction of Leopold Stokowski, gave the US premiere of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps in 1922.  Now, a century after the work's Paris premiere, the Orchestra and current music Director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, honor this legacy with a new recording on Deutsche Grammophon.  Joining the Stravinsky masterpiece are four orchestral transcriptions by Stokowski of works by Bach and Stravinsky.  The album will be released on September 24 on the eve of the Orchestra's Opening Night Concert and Gala.

When the recording was announced earlier this year, Nézet-Séguin commented, "This is a proud moment for me and for my Philadelphia Orchestra, to announce this project with Deutsche Grammophon in my very first year as music director. Since I first conducted in Philadelphia I have felt a deep connection with these musicians, and I am so eager to capture that magic and share our incredible musical partnership with listeners beyond the bounds of our concert hall. Now the whole world will be able to hear and experience our work together!"


It wasn't only the work's modernity which led Nézet-Séguin to choose it for his first Deutsche Grammophon album with the Philadelphia Orchestra: he wanted to underline the close connection which the orchestra has long had with Le Sacre. In 1922, they premiered the work in the US and in 1929 made the first American studio recording of it, on both occasions directed by Leopold Stokowski; also, in 1979 Riccardo Muti cut a classic account with them. So for Nézet-Séguin this recording is at once a tribute and the continuation of a legacy.


Moreover, by including on this album four of Leopold Stokowski's arrangements, he is also paying tribute to a conductor whose influence lives on today. An adoptive American of Polish-Irish extraction who was brought up in London, Stokowski – now best known in popular memory as the musical driving force behind Walt Disney's Fantasia – was the ultimate orchestral showman. But as Nézet-Séguin observes, he was much more than that. "He was a man of vision, a man of his time. If he were living today, he would have been the first conductor to have a Twitter account. He was always searching for the next level – whether it was new ways of recording, or new ways of using music, particularly with film – and legend has it that he had the auditorium of Philadelphia's Academy of Music repainted to create the right visual environment for specific repertoire. Acoustically he kept changing things too. He was always re-seating the players to get different effects – woodwinds at the front, basses and cellos at the back, violins at the sides – he was constantly experimenting. And he was a great champion of new music."


One of Stokowski's trademark techniques was his insistence on "free bowing". This was designed to create a sustained wall of string sound with an uninterrupted line, and achieved by having every player bow differently: long-time veterans of the orchestra have told Nézet-Séguin that it was literally forbidden to use the same bowing as your neighbor. The resulting effect is still discernible, he says, in the sound of the orchestra today. "For the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor the musicians told me they had a stamp put on the first page saying ‘free bowing' – i.e. no bowing indications. And that is how we have recorded it, with everybody taking their own liberties."


Asked what would tell him blindfold that he was listening to the Philadelphia Orchestra, Nézet-Séguin doesn't hesitate. "It's the generosity of the playing, the nobility of their approach. It's never harsh or brutal, but it always has bite. Rather than being the musical equivalent of an old Cadillac or Oldsmobile, a reliable beast, this orchestra gives you the best of both worlds, antique and modern. It is indeed a Cadillac, but it has the power and virtuosity of a Ferrari. And I'm speaking as someone who doesn't even own a driver's license."