Friday, July 26, 2013

Antal Dorati conducts Stravinsky’s Le sacre du Printemps

   Detroit Symphony Orchestra is one of most prominent orchestras in history of American music. It’s history dates back to 1887, but real achievements came with the post war prosperity with Paul Paray as musical director. Following him principal conductors – Sixten Ehrling, Aldo Ceccato, Antal Dorati and Günther Herbig – granted the orchestra its development and artistic fulfilling. In 60’s string section of the orchestra under direction of concertmaster Gordon Staples recorded many accompaniments for Motown Records popular music. Economic crisis and social changes put Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a difficult situation. In new century, despite collapse of the city finances, musicians and administration of DSO reshaped repertoire and methods of promotion working for public image in more efficient way.
   One of the best conductors in the history of the orchestra was Antal Dorati (1906-1988), born and educated in Budapest, from 1947 naturalized citizen of USA. As a composer and world famous conductor, he was widely recognized as the master of early symphonic music and modern styles. Dorati was one who early saw the possibilities inherent in the recording technology. He made over 600 recordings i.e. recordings of first complete of Joseph Haydn’s symphonies and the only complete of Haydn’s operas. His versatility was well known, but it is simple fact, his intellectual attitude gave most valuable results in classical and 20th century music. He was prized as principal conductor of philharmonic and symphonic orchestras in Dallas, Minneapolis, Stockholm, London BBC and Royal Philharmonic, Washington and last post of music director in his career in Detroit Symphony Orchestra. 

Dorati / DSO - Igor Stravinsky - Le sacre du Printemps (1982)

   The time Antal Dorati spent in Detroit was fruitful in artistic events. Between 1977 and 1981, he also made series of highly acclaimed recordings. One of albums in this series was performed in 1981 first digital recording of Igor Stravinsky’s Le sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring). The Decca album with this recording was awarded in Paris with highly respected Grand Prix du Disque, being notable success in career of Antal Dorati and in history of Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra played wonderfully, with great space and perfection. Saturated sound and articulation, certain, well led tempos and intensity making the complex rhythmic structures sound confidently and unconstrained. Cover features Dirk Degenhardt’s photo of Peter Breuer, one of master dancers during the last decades of the century.
   Published by Decca this rendition was one of highest priced recordings in 80’s and later became the classic one although not quite consistent with the classic interpretation of Stravinsky. Recording session took place in United Artists Theatre Building. This time the old theatre in opulent, Spanish-gothic style interior seated 2070 spectators. It has been closed in 1978 but auditorium still served for Detroit Symphony Orchestra as recording hall. This situation lasts only few years, until 1983, and when next year office building has been closed, its fate was sealed. In next decades abandoned building was vandalized, and the pictures showing the successive phases of its decay were circulated around the world. This is change concerning all who are not indifferent to the future more distant than the nearest pay day.

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