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Posted May 15, 2012
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam has been one of the world's great orchestras for decades on end. It became well known and respected since sound recording of the highest quality has allowed its reputation to spread. Bernard Haitink made his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1956 and he became chief conductor in 1963, and served in this post until 1988. The recorded resume of the orchestra increased dramatically under Haitink, with many outstanding recordings for the Philips Records, as well as EMI and Columbia. Haitink's recordings of all the standard repertory are known for their clarity of tone, their genuine, unmannered interpretations and performances of the highest quality. This new collection of Haitink's Ravel works with the Concertgebouw illustrates the point and high compliments to Newton Classics for another masterfully engineered re-release. Most of Ravel's best known and most loved orchestral works is present here. Haitink's rendition of "Bolero" is straight forward and well paced but, none the less, quite bracing and attention getting. Similarly fine performances are given of the familiar "Rapsodie espagnole", "La Valse" and "Le tombeau de Couperin" - all very detailed readings and beautifully played by the Concertgebouw. There are a couple of works that audiences may be less familiar with and should be. The complete "Valses and sentimentales" is present. A wonderful set of eight short waltzes that have varying character but with the expected Gallic tone color in place, these short gems are not played as a set often enough. Similarly, the complete "Ma Mere l'Oye (Mother Goose)" ballet is included here. More often performed as the shorter suite, this has always been one of my favorite Ravel works and the composer's own orchestration from what was a piece for two pianos. The short and fascinating homage to Baroque forms, "Menuet antique" is also present. Not as well known as Ravel's "Le tombeau de Couperin", this is a small gem that is - as is all Ravel - colorfully scored and so pleasant to listen to. This wonderful collection close with Haitink's reading of the "Daphnis et Chloe" second suite. Easily one of Ravel's best known works and a perfect example of his picturesque orchestration, the performance is magnificent with a great sense of pacing and detail. I have admired Bernard Haitink's work as a conductor for many years, and especially his work with the Concertgebouw. I also love virtually everything by Maurice Ravel. I strongly recommend this set to anyone wanting a nice clean, well played comprehensive set of these works. This is also a great set to get for studying the work of Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw in their heyday!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 19, 2011
These are wonderful performances which above all project a masterful grasp of textural clarity and rhythmic faithfulness. By no means does this imply that the performances lack fire or passion. Quite the contrary, Haitink consistently rises to meet the emotional demands of the music thereby neutralizing the charge of cool objectivity often leveled against this great conductor. The recordings originally taped by Philips in the 1970's are warm and transparent, a convincing sonic facsimile of the venerable Grote Zaal venue. While not comprehensive, the generous program touches on most of the orchestral masterpieces including the under-appreciated gem, "Menuet antique" as well as a complete "Ma Mere l'Oye" in lieu of the more commonly performed and recorded suite. As is the custom with Newton Classics, packaging and liner notes are above reproach.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.