Klaus Mäkelä is going places, such as Oslo, with Amsterdam on the horizon (2027), recent debuts made in Cleveland and New York, Berlin Phil soon, and Paris – where Firebird (1910) and The Rite (1913) first appeared as ballet scores for Diaghilev. Decca has put The Rite first on this eighty-three-minute disc. It starts promisingly, a fine bassoon solo, and is well-detailed, yet as the meticulously prepared, superbly played performance progresses, one notices speeds that can be too fast, passages that are on the verge of being thrown away, and a bass drum that can be indistinct; furthermore, Mäkelä’s direction finds nothing new in the music (not that he is obliged to) and by the end I felt here is another Rite, however impressive the basics are, that has come and gone without leaving too much of an impression (unlike Dorati’s recent return to the catalogue, also Decca). Excellent sound (Arne Akselberg, October last year, Philharmonie de Paris).
From a few weeks earlier – same venue and engineer – a magical Firebird. It can be a long-winded score (when given complete, there are three Suites) using what the composer described as a “wastefully large” orchestra, but even adding a few minutes to the average, to forty-eight, Mäkelä and his Parisians sustain interest with vivid characterisation, enchanted lyricism (silky strings, beguiling woodwinds), and thrilling episodes, not least the ‘Infernal Dance’ (and the approaching to it), everything judged to a nicety. Decca 485 3946.