Let me quickly comment on this release - to offer high praise where high praise is due. Every once in awhile SONY gets it so right that it is cause for celebration. (Alas, that is not always the case with this great little series of budget box reissues.) This one combines ALL of Salonen's Stravinsky from the late 80s/early 90s (for SONY) into a wonderful set of 7 CDs, purported to be freshly remastered in 24-bit.
Salonen's Stravinsky is glorious. In the bigger ballets, the Philharmonia Orchestra is magnificent. Over and over they prove themselves to be one of the best - if not THE best - orchestra in the world. To single out a few highlights: this Firebird contains all the sumptuous orchestral colors and virtuosity one can hope for and SONY lavishes it with rich, detailed sound to match. And this Rite of Spring is one of the best ever recorded. It reminds me of Ozawa's glorious, incomparable 1968 RCA recording of it with the Chicago Symphony. Both conductors brilliantly combine very quick tempos; ferocious, yet refined orchestral playing; and, most of all, the rare element of the ballet, the feel of the dance, which is so often missing in performances of this piece. It's very difficult to make this score at once barbaric and dancing! We hear the same involvement, orchestral color and superlative playing in the lesser known ballets, Orpheus and Jeu de Cartes. Salonen's natural feel for this music brings these works to life like we rarely hear. The Symphony in 3 Movements also comes off particularly well, with its precision of articulation and energetic propulsion. It is a pity Salonon didn't also record Stravinsky's other symphonies ("in C" and "Of Psalms") at some point.
Salonen leads the London Sinfonietta in the smaller-scaled and concertante works. Their playing brings an even higher level of crisp precision and an intimacy which suits the music perfectly. Similarly, the Stockholm Chamber Orchestra provides outstanding readings of Apollon Musagete and the Concerto in D. And, finally, we get the complete Pulcinella and Renard (with soloists), and the Cantata and Oedipus Rex.
I'm not sure I hear any significant improvements in this "remastering". The sound was uniformly excellent in their original releases and that same high quality is duplicated here. SONY has hit a grand-slam with this release and I recommend it highly.