The first thing I notice is that Boulez’s interpretation is overall a bit faster and more energetic. Solti’s fairs somewhat more slow, but larger in feel. Boulez’s is also a half step higher (at least for the first part). Solti’s version also has the intensity of the piece enter sooner with the chugging cellos, but when the madness ascends in Boulez’s piece, the chugging is more in the upper range. Another thing to note is that Solti’s doesn’t quite sound as harsh and in-your-face as Boulez’s, which sounds like he has the strings more piercing and ready to attack. The horns share this characteristic. The huge drums on Solti’s version sound lower, while Boulez’s sound more in the mix of things. When all said and done, though, both pieces sound similar, which is to be expected, as they are they’re same song.
As for me, I’m not sure which one I prefer. It could be because of the medium from which I’m listening (headphone. I know, I’m sorry), but Boulez’s version just sounds to shrill. Solti, on the other hand, conducted this piece more to the style, I think: it’s darker, heavier, and sounds more epic. But who knows, really. Igor Stravinsky’s dead.
“The Rite of Spring” conducted by P. Boulez: