- The riot which took place at the premiere of Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre Du Printemps) in Paris, 1913, remains one of the greatest scandals in music history. While such a reception seems incomprehensible by today's jaded, world-weary audiences, the savage rhythms and violent dissonance of the composition still retain the power to awe, helping it become arguably the most important, widely performed piece of 20th century composition. It's logical that a piece so centred on rhythm should spark the interest of dance music producers, but that it has resulted in so subtle an edit, by none other than proto-progressivist Stefan Goldmann, is indeed a surprise.
The only hint of an interest in classical music I'd noticed in Goldmann was the choir which gorgeously rears up in "Lunatic Fringe," but his edit of The Rite reveals a studied, thorough understanding not just of classical music structure but, more significantly, of the classical recording industry. Taking twelve different recordings of the work, Goldmann performed 146 cuts, remaining faithful to the score throughout. As Goldmann describes it: "Every couple of seconds you find yourself in a different room, listening to a different orchestra under a different conductor. A journey through microphone positions and mixdown decisions. Each time a different world in the headphone." Goldmann, then, is in essence some sort of Perry-esque dub-engineer-prankster here, exposing the imperfection-masking "invisible edits" of which the classical recording industry is so dependent, celebrating the unique atmospheres of individual recording sessions, and, almost consequently, introducing a beloved classical icon to new audiences. A Ferry Corsten trance mix of "Adagio for Strings" this ain't.
Except that Goldmann's approach is so "minimally invasive" that his edits are often as difficult to detect as those of the industry he critiques. Actual cuts are inaudible, and the variations between performances, or rather between recording sessions, are barely discernible, even through headphones. His restraint is admirable, and it's an intriguing concept—there is some fun to be had in spotting the change in bassoons in the opening bars, or the fluctuations in tape hiss which occur throughout—but it's an alienating, academic exercise, and soon seems rather pointless.
Much better to submit and get carried away by the music, the strongest moments of which remain immune to Goldmann's scalpel. "Dance of the Adolescents" is as shocking and revelatory as ever, and Goldmann's cutting, here relatively dramatic, goes by unnoticed. The lasting effect Goldmann's editing produces is one of dehumanisation and objectivity, the artifice of recording foregrounded, and this version, if it can be compared against "real" ones, feels uniquely cold. The contribution of individual performers, and the relative value of different performances (the basis for all classical music appreciation and criticism) become meaningless, leaving only an indifferent rendering of Stravinsky's score. This may well have been Goldmann's intention, but I'll take Pierre Monteux's untouched 1957 recording, included here, any day. Ironically, after all these levels of detachment, it is Stravinsky whose voice remains.
Part I: L'Adoration De La Terre
02. Les Augures Printaniers (Danses Des Adolescentes)
03. Jeu Du Rapt
04. Rondes Printanières
05. Jeux Des Cités Rivales
06. Cortège Du Sage
07. Adoration De La Terre (Le Sage)
08. Danse De La Terre
Part II: Le Sacrifice
10. Cercles Mystérieux Des Adolescentes
11. Glorification De L'Élue
12. Evocation Des Ancêtres
13. Action Rituelle Des Ancêtres
14. Danse Sacrale (L'Élue)
Le Sacre Du Printemps "Live"
15. Part I
16. Part II