- Daphnis et Chloé, ballet for orchestra - Maurice Ravel - London Symphony Orchestra - Pierre Monteux - Joan Sutherland - Royal Opera House Chorus Covent Garden
- Rhapsodie espagnole, for orchestra (or 2 pianos) - Maurice Ravel - London Symphony Orchestra - Pierre Monteux
- Pavane pour une infante défunte, for piano (or orchestra) - Maurice Ravel - London Symphony Orchestra - Pierre Monteux
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé, Rapsodie Espagnole, Pavaneby Pierre Monteux
Although "Daphnis" often appears on record and in concert hall as the reduced "Suite No. 2," this release from Decca includes a 1959 recording of the complete ballet version. From the mysterious, exotic opening of the introduction, Monteux and the LSO capture the lushness and richness of the harmonies with an unbridled sense of French passion. The many different sections are linked through Ravel's subtle and delicate transitions; they achieve a real transparency under Monteux's clear hand. Listeners new to the complete ballet but familiar with the "Suite No. 2" will appreciate the additional coloring provided by the ethereal voices of the wordless chorus. The clarity of the choral singing is excellent -- the frequently subtle changes of pitch, often lost in murkiness in other performances, are gently but clearly emphasized here with taste. Monteux, a violinist by training, compels his LSO string players to play Ravel's harmonics with a real core and edge to the sound, minus the usual French wispiness. This edge is also apparent in the trumpets' stark flair at the beginning of the "Danse Generale." Throughout the performance, Monteux elicits supreme control over tempo; a technique learned no doubt by his extensive work at the ballet. Gone are the licentious liberties imposed upon this work by other conductors -- here is a performance that allows some real dancing and joie de vivre to shine through.
The disc is thoroughly filled out with two remaining selections: Ravel's "Rhapsody Espagnole" and the "Pavane." The "Rhapsody," originally written for piano in 1907 and later orchestrated by the composer, predates "Daphnis et Chloé" by several years and contains many of the hallmarks of Ravel's early style (many of which were lifted by the admiring Stravinsky, who used Ravel's sonic palette in "Petrushka" and in his earlier ballet the "Firebird").
The delicate beauty contained in all Monteux's performances featured here make this disc a difficult one to pass up. Decca's sound is excellent -- although the microphones pick up a fair amount of graininess from the violins in particular, much of this disc is so excellently remastered you might never have realized everything on it was recorded around 1960. A must-have for any fan of Monteux or Ravel, this disc is a wonderful introduction to some of the composers' best work. ~ C. Ryan Hill, All Music Guide
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsPierre Monteux Primary Artist
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