Saturday, July 24, 2010

Larry Coryell - Le Sacre du Printemps (1983)

UPDATED 28/2/12. See Below

Gee, it's been a while. What with the World Cup and all I've been neglecting this blog a little, other than my little run-in with Billy Jenkins's people (for which I can't apologise enough).

Anyway, here's a little-known gem from 1983. Larry Coryell's solo guitar arrangement of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps (aka The Rite of Spring). I'm no guitarist, but even I boggle at the performance on this one. I think there was originally a four-handed piano reduction of the piece (for the ballet rehearsals) of which there are many issued recordings, and I think later pianists have recorded a two-handed arrangement (I thought I had a recording* of one, but it turns out it's a four-handed arrangement overdubbed by one pianist). But Coryell plays it on solo guitar. There's no overdubbing. I don't have good enough ears to detect whether there's any splicing or punching in, but even if there is, it's still a mighty impressive achievement. There are quite detailed liner notes that probably reveal the recording process, but since I don't read Japanese I couldn't really say.
In lesser hands a solo Le Sacre could turn into a wanky shred-fest, but Coryell plays it pretty straight, other than the occasional implied blues shuffle or latin rhythm, and really seems to capture a lot of the drama and rhythmic intensity of Stravinsky's work.

I picked this up on eBay for a song about five years ago. In fact, I think it's the first thing I ever bought on eBay. Curse you, eBay, and your detrimental effect on my finances!
It was recorded in New York City in 1983, and produced by none other than the esteemed Teo Macero. This one might have only ever been issued in Japan (it came out on CD too). Coryell put out an album the same year featuring his solo recordings of L'Oiseau De Feu and Petrouchka, of which I have an LP** pressed in Holland, so I'm not 100% sure that this one only came out in Japan. Either way, according to a logo on the OBI 帯, this one is pressed on Super Vinyl, so you know that's just got to be, er, super.

Philips label, Japan, 1983. Cat # 28PJ-2

A1: Part I: The Adoration of the Earth (16:25).
Introduction - Dance of the Young Maidens - Mock Abduction - Spring Rounds - Games of the Rival Tribes - Entry of the Wise Men - Kiss to the Earth - Worship Dance of the Earth.

B1: Part II: The Sacrifice (18:48).
Introduction - Mystical Circle of the Young Maidens - Glorification of the Chosen One - Evocation of the Ancestors - Sacrificial Dance

Re-rip 28/4/12.
I reckon I've done a much better job this time, so those who already have this might want to grab it again.

320kbps mp3

* Found it. It's by Dickran Atamian on RCA. Was thinking of posting it, but there are a couple of in-print recordings by the same pianist available. Look 'em up.
**My copy of L'Oiseau De Feu/Petrouchka is not in the best shape, so I won't post it unless someone asks for it.


  1. I think there are two solo piano arrangements. One was by Leyetchkiss and was sighted by Stravinsky and approved by him.

    There is another one by Sam Raphling. I have never heard a Leyetchkiss recording but there are one or two of the Raphling version.

    I would assume Coryell recorded it with a lot of punching in, however there is a recording of him playing The Firebird live so I wouldn't be surprised if he had Le Sacre to maybe not performance level but close.

    Don't forget Corryell also did an excellent solo arrangement of Scheherazade which is a little easier to find I think.

  2. The Atamian recording seems to be of Raphling's transcription. There's a score of Leyetchkiss's online here so if you feel inclined you can play it for us and record it.
    I recently picked up a recording of the pianola version (which was cut mechanically, rather than by recording a human player), which is quite astonishing. It's paired with a recording by Benjamin Zander based on the tempos (tempi?) used in the pianola version. Read about it on Zander's website here and here (the second page linked above contains a couple links to downloads of Zander's orchestral recordings. What a guy!).

  3. Oh, you can download an mp3 of the Zander/BPO and the pianola version here

    1. Thank you so much for your extremely rare Coryell posts! Fileserve no longer allows any sharing. Any chance this could be uploaded to any other sharing service?

  4. really great Coryell upload.
    would it be released on LP, it should be worth HD rip.

  5. Wow, very sorry I missed out on DL-ing this one. If you can re-up, that would be very nice...
    I saw this on CD in Tokyo years ago, but was out of a job at that time and didn't feel I could even afford it at the 2nd hand store's price...

  6. Re-up again of the Coryell solo Rites of Spring?