The Rite of Spring on marimba?

The Rite of Spring on marimba?


norman lebrecht

July 09, 2022


You got it.


  • Adam Stern says:

    It’s impossible to not be impressed by this tour de force, intensely performed and memorized to a fault. If I have a personal quibble, it would be with the too-precious rubatos in such sections as the very opening and the “Rondes Printanières”, which seem at odds with the rest of the tight and angular performance. But I’ll be going back to it for pure pleasure and a fresh way of hearing Stravinsky’s timeless masterpiece.

  • J. Darton says:

    Absolutely astonishing!

  • Larry L. Lash says:

    It’s fun, but it sounds a bit like a duel for marimba and piano.

    As non-traditional recordings of “Sacre” go, I much prefer the accordion duo of James Crabb & Geir Draugsvoll (EMI, coupled with Stravinsky’s “Tango” and “Pictures at an Exhibition) but even that is shadowed by Larry Coryell’s 12-string guitar solos of “Sacre” and a second disc of “L’oiseau de feu” and “Petrouchka” (Philips). Long out-of-print, these CDs were going for insane amounts if you could find them at all, but I now see they are available, used, for decent prices. Highly recommended, especially if you’re a guitar enthusiast.

    A few months ago I heard a superb performance of the four-hand piano version at Konzerthaus by Leif Ove Andsnes and Marc-André Hamelin.

    I was lucky to be part of the Paul Taylor Dance Company family in the 1980s/1990s, so I was at the April 1980 premiere of “Le sacre du printemps (The Rehearsal)” set to the four-hand piano transcription, played by Donald York and Michael Ford. In those days they had the money for live music for everything (the other music on that night: Poulenc’s harpsichord concerto and a Händel pastiche), and York was for almost 50 years the company’s music director and extremely gifted in-house composer. I only now discovered that we lost him almost exactly a year ago.

  • Ronald Vogel says:

    Amazing! At first I said “no way” which slowly became ” WOW”! Not only a technical tour de force but one of incredible memorization and superb musicianship also. Thanks for posting.

  • Sixtus Beckmesser says:

    While obviously not a replacement for the full orchestra, this version is surprisingly effective. Kudos to them both for memorizing the score.

  • drummerman says:

    And why not? It brought a smile to this old percussionist’s face. Brava to them!

  • Fenway says:

    This nightmare(literally)underscores the fact that there is so little music written for the marimba. Being a percussionist, I know how very difficult four mallet playing is, and at the end of the day, who cares? The marimba is useful only for commercial and film scores, where it can be properly amplified. In any large ensemble it never is heard. And solo it is only of interest to percussionists.

    The xylophone, on the other hand, is a great instrument in any situation, as shown here:

    • Kyle says:

      The video of Teddy Brown Fenway linked to is, in my opinion, the greatest xylophone playing and best 2-mallet playing on any keyboard percussion instrument ever documented. There are other videos of Teddy that boggle the mind, but this one is without equal. Teddy was technically stupendous; the utterly assured one-handed arpeggios he plays in this and other videos (sometimes without even looking at the keyboard and mugging for the camera!) repeatedly cause me to verbally exclaim in disbelief. Plus his time and feel are without fault. The spin move is preposterously difficult – no less for the man’s tremendous girth, one would guess – though musically superfluous.

      • drummerman says:

        This was fantastic but let us also not forget the Green Brothers — Joe and George — and the amazing jazz xylophonist Ian Finkel, who, sadly died from covid 19 complications last year. You can see him on several Youtube videos.

  • NYMike says:

    WOW! The entire score from memory.

  • MortimerWilson says:

    It’s not exactly going to replace the original, but it’s surprisingly well executed

  • margaret koscielny says:

    Technical tour de force, but, the extreme efforts of the two musicians and their obvious talents do not add up to Art, without the original mixture of orchestral instruments with which Stravenski created so much more musical texture.

    • guest says:

      But of course Stravinsky’s own four-handed piano version (which he played along with Debussy) preceded the orchestral one. Perhaps that did not add up to Art either.

  • Rodrigo says:

    Wait a sec. Where are they performing this?

    Nice, but not original. Yuja Wang did a similar arrangement with Martin Grubinger in 2019. Boosey & Hawkes barred them from performing it because they don’t license new arrangements of Rite. Apparently this is a long standing & well known rule. Yuja & Martin were able to perform it in the US because Rite is public domain there.

    I just checked this duo’s website. The only performances they have scheduled are indeed, in the US. So they’re following copyright rules, but Boosey will drastically limit all performances outside of the US, just as they did with Martin & Yuja.

    Here’s the explanation.