Ravel: Shéhérazade, Le Tombeau de Couperin / Debussy: Ballades de Villon

Ravel: Shéhérazade, Le Tombeau de Couperin / Debussy: Ballades de Villon

by Pierre Boulez
     
 

Those who continue to typecast Pierre Boulez as a cold-hearted conductor should sit themselves down and listen to this loving and exquisitely poised performance of Ravel's suite Le Tombeau de Couperin -- in particular to the melting lyricism of the third movement Menuet. That the virtuosity of the Cleveland Orchestra is staggeringSee more details below

Overview

Those who continue to typecast Pierre Boulez as a cold-hearted conductor should sit themselves down and listen to this loving and exquisitely poised performance of Ravel's suite Le Tombeau de Couperin -- in particular to the melting lyricism of the third movement Menuet. That the virtuosity of the Cleveland Orchestra is staggering goes without saying, but it's also clear that this band has a special affinity for Boulez's interpretive style. Just listen to how beautifully the winds color their phrases, not only in Le Tombeau but in the ever-popular Pavane pour une Infante défunte and, indeed, throughout this program. Debussy's delicate Danses sacrées et profanes is also magical, thanks in large part to harpist Lisa Wellbaum's angelic tone. Anne Sofie von Otter's performance of Ravel's three-song cycle Shéhérazade will be more controversial, perhaps. The mezzo-soprano is exceptionally alive to the nuances of Tristan Klingsor's verses, but her singing, while sensuous, is lacking in spontaneity, especially when compared with the classic account by Régine Crespin. Still, this is an individual and compelling account of a work whose richness leaves it open to an astonishing variety of interpretations. Those collecting Boulez's superb series of Debussy and Ravel recordings for DG need not hesitate.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Allen Schrott
This release offers a refreshingly varied selection of music by Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, approximating the feel of a thoughtfully programmed concert. In this case, the program is built around works with an otherworldly (or "othertimely") feel, highlighting the two composers' talent for combining the exotic, the ancient, and the atmospheric, with the distinctly modern timbres and techniques of early twentieth century impressionism. In his late seventies at the time of recording, Pierre Boulez remains one of the best conductors of this music, balancing the need for clarity and emotional restraint with the slight textural blur required to give these works their dreaminess. He also knows when to give in to the sheer sonic pleasures that both composers offer. The Cleveland Orchestra plays with an engagingly lean, yet warm sound, sounding nimbler than many large orchestras can manage in Ravel's "Tombeau" and "Menuet antique." Anne-Sofie von Otter is a perfect choice for Ravel's "Shéhérazade," singing with a creamy lyricism and sensuous phrasing that magnify the poet Tristan Klingsor's longing for the exotic pleasures of the East. Alison Hagley is equally good in Debussy's "Ballades (3) de François Villon" and "Le jet d'eau." The unexpected warmth and earthiness of her voice suit Debussy's style of declamation perfectly. In all, this is an enjoyable and expertly performed recording, highly recommended to almost anyone.
BBC Online - Andrew McGregor
It's all so deliciously balanced, by the singers, by Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra, and by Deutsche Grammophon's engineers. Too often impressionism is taken to mean gazing through a soft-focus lens, smearing the detail. Here the tiniest impression registers, the smallest change of texture is faithfully rendered, so that when we pull back and look at the whole image, it vibrates with life, and love.

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/11/2004
Label:
Dg Imports
UPC:
0028947161424
catalogNumber:
471614

Tracks

  1. Shéhérazade, poems (3) for soprano (or tenor) & orchestra (or piano)  - Maurice Ravel  - Pierre Boulez  - Nikolaus Boddin  -  Cleveland Orchestra  - Tristan Klingsor  - Anne Sofie von Otter  - Marion Thiem
  2. Le tombeau de Couperin, for orchestra  - Maurice Ravel  - Pierre Boulez  - Nikolaus Boddin  -  Cleveland Orchestra  - Marion Thiem
  3. Pavane pour une infante défunte, for piano (or orchestra)  - Maurice Ravel  - Pierre Boulez  - Nikolaus Boddin  -  Cleveland Orchestra  - Marion Thiem
  4. Menuet antique, for piano (or orchestra)  - Maurice Ravel  - Pierre Boulez  - Nikolaus Boddin  -  Cleveland Orchestra  - Marion Thiem
  5. Danses sacrée et profane, for chromatic harp & string orchestra, L. 103  - Claude Debussy  - Pierre Boulez  - Nikolaus Boddin  -  Cleveland Orchestra  - Marion Thiem  - Lisa Wellbaum
  6. Le jet d'eau ("Tes beaux yeux sont las, pauvre amants"), song for voice & piano, L. 64/3  - Claude Debussy  - Pierre Boulez  - Charles Baudelaire  - Nikolaus Boddin  -  Cleveland Orchestra  - Alison Hagley  - Marion Thiem
  7. Ballades de François Villon (3), song cycle for voice & piano (or orchestra), L.119  - Claude Debussy  - Pierre Boulez  - Nikolaus Boddin  -  Cleveland Orchestra  - Alison Hagley  - Roger Nichols  - François Villon  - Marion Thiem

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