Les noces is probably the closest Stravinsky came to creating a ‘sequel’ to The Rite of Spring. The work is a dramatic scenario depicting an ancient Russian wedding ritual, and with the declamatory voices accompanied by a clangourous ensemble of four pianos and percussion group, it’s a unique work in the great man’s canon.Philip Clark, Classic FM Magazine, 8/1/2006
Le sacred du printemps may have made a bigger noise at its premiere, but Les noces was arguably no less important when it appeared in 1923, the fruit of almost a decade of labour.
This new recording emphasises mathematical coolness and accuracy but without choking the emotion out of the score. It’s the emotional ambiguity and the Swiss watch-like precision of this score that make it so fascinating, and Reuss has the measure of both. The vocal soloists make the most of their brief opportunities to create various characters – the Bride, the Bridegroom, in-laws, and so on – by giving colours to their voices more typical of a Russian village than a concert-hall. Tone and accuracy are never sacrificed, however, and so the effect, while approaching ‘authenticity’, is never coarse. Raymond S Tuttle, International Record Review, 7/1/2006
Stravinsky loathed superimposed ‘expressiveness’, and always insisted his music should be executed rather than interpreted. On that basis, this latest release from the RIAS Chamber Choir of Berlin Radio comes up pretty well. The Chamber Choir’s pitches are true and focussed, rhythms crisp, textures clean, and in the jubilant wedding cantata-ballet Les noces that marked the culmination of Stravinsky’s early Russian period there is a clear and spacious sound balance with its accompanying ensemble of four pianos and percussion.Bayan Northcott, BBC Music Magazine, 8/1/2006
Seeing the Royal Ballet perform Les noces, or watching the Bolshoi in Petrushka and The Firebird, certainly confirms for me that Stravinksy’s music is far greater than the ballets it was designed to accompany. Diaghilev knew what he was doing when he hired the fledgling composer.
Stravinsky’s recording of Les noces is famous for its ruthlessness, yet the piece is about a folk wedding, and one feature of most weddings is joy. That, a feeling of rhythmic joy, is what makes this new performance so exhilarating. The rhythms are unrelenting, spellbinding, only pausing for the blessing, the two mothers’ lament, and the moment the mother lets her daughter go. The performance is terrific, directed with superb exuberance by Daniel Reuss.
The performances are all marvelous: who would have expected to hear Carolyn Sampson singing Stravinsky? This record is not to be missed.Ivan March, The Gramophone - EDITOR'S CHOICE, 9/1/2006