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This is a terrific performance that grips the listener from first to last. The frisson of it being recorded live helps immeasurably, coupled with the razor-edge precision of the LSO Chamber Ensemble, directed from the violin by Roman Simovic.

The playing is often very dry – perfect for Stravinsky’s score. Shorn of visuals (facial expression, gestures), actor Malcom Sinclair’s narration succeeds in its variety of timbre and, indeed, regional accents. Rhythmically, too, he matches the ensemble (in descriptions of the marching soldier, for example).

The fragility of Stravinsky’s scoring is acutely felt here: the ‘Pastorale’ is remarkable in the technical control of the clarinet and bassoon; but listen also to the outrageous trombone (Dudley Bright) in ‘The Royal March’. Roman Simovic has his work cut out as the violin representation of the Devil, finding an appropriately grainy, slightly rough sound. The recording (Jerwood Hall) is remarkably present. Recommended.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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