BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral Reviews -

Petrushka; Jeu de cartes

Mari­in­sky Orches­tra/valery Gergiev Mari­in­sky MAR 0594 (hy­brid CD/SACD) 57:51 mins

Although Gergiev con­duct­ing the Mari­in­sky Orches­tra in one of Stravin­sky’s Rus­sian bal­lets should be the main draw here,

Jeu de cartes steals the show. The chore­ographed ‘Card Game in three deals’ was writ­ten for Ge­orge Balan­chine to show off his re­cently formed Amer­i­can Bal­let in 1937.

One of Stravin­sky’s most play­ful and at­trac­tive scores, it cu­ri­ously after ini­tial suc­cess has be­come a rel­a­tive rar­ity. This vi­va­cious per­for­mance projects the mu­sic’s neo­clas­si­cal lines cleanly, while avoid­ing steril­ity. Gergiev’s light­ness of touch en­ables the wit to sparkle, es­pe­cially in the con­trast­ing vari­a­tions of the ‘Se­cond Deal’, all cap­tured in su­perb sur­round sound.

A pity, then, that Petrushka is pe­ri­od­i­cally scrappy and does not match its pro­tag­o­nist in spring­ing to life. There is spirit to the fi­nal scene’s fight, but walk­ing around the Shrove­tide fair is de­cid­edly pedes­trian. Not does it help that the com­pet­ing tex­tures of the open­ing, and var­i­ous later pas­sages, are mired in a boomy, ill-fo­cused record­ing. In all, it’s a de­cent if un­spec­tac­u­lar ac­count of a work where the bar is set very high. Yet it is cer­tainly ad­e­quate as a sub­stan­tial filler for a splen­did Jeu de cartes. Christo­pher Din­gle PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★

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