Stories » NYPhil: van Zweden - RITE ON!! / STAGEANDCINEMA

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Remember the first time you heard a classical work that became a seminal moment for you? Mine came watching Disney's Fantasia. When I heard the pounding and mysticism and that swirl of orchestrated colors in Stravinsky's Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du printemps), I was hooked. It didn't hurt that I was watching gorgeous animation telling of the beginning of earth through earthquakes and the extinction of dinosaurs. Over the years, anyone who deviated from Leopold Stokowski's rendition - however edited for the 1940 film - got an immediate pooh-pooh from me. Even when I saw a reconstructed version of choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky's original ballet on the hundredth anniversary of the ballet - which depicts a virgin sacrifice in an ancient pagan Russia wherein a maiden is chosen to die and must dance herself to death - I found something lacking.

Now, finally, I have heard a conductor that can stand proudly next to my beloved Stowkowski: Jaap van Zweden, who, in his first weeks as music director of the New York Philharmonic, recorded live Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps and Debussy's La Mer, which together make up this third NY Phil album from Decca Gold. (NY Phil's first album with van Zweden contained Beethoven 5 and 7, taken from performances prior to his advent as music director.)