FOLLOWING the international celebrations last year of the centenary of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, you might expect the brouhaha to have subsided.

Don't you believe it. Wait until you hear this. Les Siecles is a French orchestra that has, sensationally, recreated that explosive premiere by recording it exclusively on the generation of instruments available to the Ballets Russes orchestra in 1913. What's different? Everything. The woodwinds don't have an octave key and their sound is warmer and more intimate; drums are smaller, tubas and trombones are smaller, and the strings are catgut. A novelty? No. Les Siecles is a virtuoso outfit, electrifyingly-directed by Francois-Xavier Roth, and the results, in textural clarity and revelatory perception of the slow introductions to each half, are staggering; shocking, even. And when Les Siecles cut loose in the Augurs of Spring and those crashing chords in the second half, at speeds that defy gravity, it will blow your head off, as will their transparent Petrouchka.

Michael Tumelty

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