- Daphnis et Chloé, ballet for orchestra
Even though the music of Maurice Ravel's 1912 ballet "Daphnis et Chloé" is most often heard in the two suites he arranged a year later, the whole work deserves listeners' rapt attention because it is one of his greatest scores and is especially rewarding when heard in its complete form. Called a symphonie choréographique by Ravel, though composed in scenes along the lines of a Classical ballet, the three parts of the piece are unified by common motives and by the use of a rich orchestral palette, which includes a wordless chorus. This 1979 live recording by Bernard Haitink, the John Alldis Choir, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra runs to just under an hour, though its fascinating sonorities, gently wafting rhythmic movement, and impressionistic harmonies make it seem dreamlike and timeless. The performance is indeed atmospheric and the orchestra's textures are diaphanous, so listeners can get lost in the wonderful orchestration and be distracted only slightly by the occasional audience noises, which are rather faint in the background. The analog stereo recording is quite warm and rich, and much of its vividness remains in the digital remastering.
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Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Bernard Haitink recorded this score more than a few times, with orchestras in America and Europe. Besides this live London recording from 1979 (from the BBC archives), I was very impressed with another more recent live recording, with the Chicago Symphony on CSO Resound in 2007. This newly-remastered CD from the London Philharmonic Orchestra's own label is welcome. The concert recorded at Festival Hall shows the orchestra and the John Alldis Choir in fine form, and the engineers have captured both the music itself and the excitement of a special live performance. This version is a bit more expansive than the tighter Chicago version, and the sonics don't quite compare. But in this instance Haitink and his musicians make a strong case for slowing this gorgeous music down just a bit. The Charles Dutoit Montreal Symphony version of Daphnis and Chloe released by London in 1990 is very special. It's both my favourite version of this great music, and one of the outstanding CDs I own. But Ravel's masterpiece has many facets, and Bernard Haitink is an outstanding guide, whether the journey starts in London or in Chicago.
Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe" is one of his best known works and, probably, one of the most well loved masterworks from the early part of the twentieth century. Originally a ballet on the grandest scale, this is much more commonly known as an orchestral poem with exotic feel and an other-worldly array of sonorities. There are countless recordings to choose from and this is such a stunning work that choosing a favorite (let alone a "best") is nearly impossible - although I confess a partiality to that of Dutoit and Montreal. This recording, also very fine, is a reissue of a live performance with Bernard Haitink with the London Philharmonic over BBC from 1979. It is a great one to add to your collection. Haitink's years in London resulted in some really fine performances of everything from Shostakovich to the present. I think it may help to be of French descent to really relate to the inner delicacy of Ravel or Debussy (such as Mr. Dutoit) but Dutchman Haitink comes close. The pacings are a little different in spots; a tad brisk at the opening of the "Danse guerriere" and more relaxed during the finale but this is a fine performance and a great recording. Miking on some of the wordless vocals is a bit close but not distracting and the quality is wonderful. BBC has been reissuing a number of these historic performances from Haitink and the London Phil and I, for one, and am quite glad. This was also one of the great periods in the history of that orchestra with a lush string sound, wonderfully impeccable woodwind solos and a brass sound that - especially for this piece - does not get too "brassy" Bernard Haitink's greatest skills as a conductor, in fact, were in how to coax a warm, balanced and sympathetic ensemble sound out of any orchestra (The recordings of his own Concertgebouw from the same period and just earlier were splendid on all counts) This recording and performance is terrific all around and the audience reaction (kept in at the end) is richly deserved and helps maintain a "live" feel. If you had to go get just one recording of "Daphnis et Chloe", I would certainly keep this in the mix (along with Dutoit and maybe the old Munch) A better idea is to add this to a library containing other recordings of this masterpiece for reasons of historical importance as well as great sound!