The Rite of Spring

As the earth blooms and the sky sings, the mere thought of Spring has inspired poets and composers through the ages to celebrate the resurgence of life with sweet, bouyant thoughts. But not Igor Stravinsky. His 1912 Le Sacre de Printemps (“The Rite of Spring”) was inspired by a vastly different muse. Surely one of the most important works in the annals of art, its impact still reverberates across all types of music.

I like that quote from Peter Guttmann..

I have The Atlanta Symphony (Levi) and recently bought the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra SACD with Yuri Simonov. (Excellent performance and great sonics). I'd like to hear Bernsteins too. Do any of you have one you'd highly recommend. Thanks - Mark

It's always illuminating to hear a composer's view from the podium: Stravinsky's own interpretation on Sony. Not an audiophile experience, but essential.
Igor Markevich...
In addition to picking up the Bernstein recording, you might want to try Esa-Pekka Solonen and the L.A. Philharmonic on DG. It's a hybrid SACD, which offers a great performance in addition to great sound.
I've got a near mint Columbia two-eye of Stravinsky conducting the Rite, it's sonics are fine to my ears. Haven't heard the cd though. I agree it's a must have for fans of the work. I also like Bernstein, his drama and emotion suit the work well. Also agree with Esa Pekka Salonen and your Simonov recommendations. The Solti/Chicago recording is excellent. Amazon has a JVC xrcd of this performance I'd really like to get.
The 1976 Sir Colin Davis recording with the Concertgebouw (I believe) on Philips is my favorite reading, with excellent sonics. Was available on CD, may still be. I have a couple of SACDs of it, but haven't listened to them yet, will report when I get to them.
Stravinsky's own recording is very good, Dutoit's with Montreal is also excellent. I almost bought the Davis one today at Half Price, but it was too scratched up. If I was forced to make a top ten list, this piece would probably be on it.
I endorse the Igor Markevich performance. From a subtlety of interpretation, Pierre Boulez was deemed by the small Stravinskian crowd of disturbed teenagers that I grew up with to be one of the ultimate interpreters. Herbert Von Karajan we used to frown upon of course because of his slightly more romantic/lush performance. . . 30 years later. . . I realized there is nothing wrong with it, great stuff in fact. Stravinsky's own performance is NOT an interpretation. . . it is just a 'reading' at best, and its value mostly documentary and antiquarian.
Best "Sacre" to my mind is Rattle on "Rhythm Is It"-soundtrack. That one is much more intense than his CD recording with City of Birmingham Symphony - no wonder: this is Berlin Phil!! Second choice is the above mentioned Dutoit. Third choice is Mariss Jansons with Concertgebow, Gergiev with the Kirov is fourth, Tilson Thomas with SFS comes in fifth. I am not at all convinced by Strawinskys own recordings. He never was really a conductor, was he? And to know exactly what was in his mind when he composed it is by far not enough to conduct this piece!
I agree with those of you who are not that impressed with Stravinski's own recording. It often happens that the composers are not the ideal conductors of their own works, unless they also are trained conductors (like Bernstein, Boulez, etc.). I found another version in my collection, Inbal and the Israeli Philharmonic, which I like as an interpretation.

By the way, for interesting reading, I endorse the book "First Nights-Five Musical Premieres" by Thomas Forrest Kelly, which has an excellent account of the disastrous premiere of this work.
If one enjoys the Davis performance of the Rite, it's well worth also hearing the Tilson-Thomas/BSO performance. So many good performances, all pulling different information and emotions from the score. For raw power and energy, I always enjoy the Solti/CSO. For more of the dance rhythms and nuance, I come back to the Monteaux. Overall, I agree with Rprince about the Davis/Concertgebouw.
Boulez' interpretation with the Cleveland Orchestra. A more "sensitive" approach than the others I've heard, which you would expect f rom Boulez, being as how he has c onducted so many of the Impressionist composers' music( he's really good at anything by Debussy). I have it on a Great Performances budget CD, which was mastered ADD.--Mrmitch
Aida_w, Stravinsky made it a point to conduct most of his works. Besides enhancing well his already significant income, it was a way for him to finalize the score and -- by forging an performance archetype -- to close any interpretive loops and exercise supreme control over the music. Nothing wrong with that. . . except that while he is deemed by more than a few to be the greatest composer of the 20th century, his conducting prowess are dutyful at best, and fall far short of any exalted renown. For a particularly bad example of J. S. at the podium, listen to his recording of his own Cantata. . . used to be available many years ago on CBS Masterworks. G.
Thanks for the interesting insights and recommendations for this great piece. -Mark