Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé - Gergiev
LSO Live LSO0693
Classical - Orchestral
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé, Boléro, Pavane pour une infante defunte
London Symphony Chorus
London Symphony Orchestra
Valery Gergiev (conductor)
Ravel's ballet Daphnis et Chloé is essentially an extended tone poem, suffused with luscious orchestral colours, portraying the passion of the two protagonists for each other. By contrast, Pavane pour une infante défunte harks back to the simplicity of the eighteenth-century music of Rameau, whilst Boléro is a fiery showpiece, highlighting the Spanish influences that pervade a number of Ravel’s works.
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Review by Graham Williams - November 23, 2010
The first thing that will strike you when listening to this recording is its huge dynamic range. The opening bars of 'Daphnis and Chloe' (recorded in September 2009) emerge almost imperceptibly from inky black silence, and you may be tempted to immediately increase the volume setting, but beware, because as the music of the introduction rises to its climax (around 2'28”) the sound expands hugely, with the LSO trumpets cutting thrillingly through the massive orchestral and choral texture. Nevertheless this disc does need to be played at a high level to achieve the most realistic sound from it.
Throughout this recording the Classic Sound team of Jonathan Stokes and Neil Hutchinson have managed to capture every detail of Ravel's glittering score in a way that one would not have believed possible, given the well-known sonic limitations of the Barbican acoustic.
Of course, much of the credit for the illumination of orchestral detail must also be given to Valery Gergiev who manages to achieve superb balances between every sections of his marvellous orchestra. One might be forgiven for imagining that Gergiev would be a conductor who would not respond naturally to Ravel's sensuous and erotic score with much sensitivity, but that is definitely not the case. His performance is beautifully attuned to the ebb and flow of the ballet and most successfully combines a relaxed gentleness in the more reflective sections with terrific muscular drive and energy elsewhere. The LSO perform with their customary virtuosity and it is good to be able to hear the wordless choral sections delivered with such accuracy and enthusiasm by the LSO Chorus.
The two works that fill up this disc, 'Pavane pour une infante défunte' and 'Bolero',were recorded in December 2009 at a different concert from that of the Daphnis and Chloe'.
Gergiev's 'Pavane', though exquisitely played, could have benefited from little more forward momentum such as that demonstrated by the incomparable Pierre Monteux on his 1961 recording of it with this same orchestra. However, the ubiquitous 'Boléro' proves to be a real winner. Though Gergiev's steady and relentless pace does imbue the piece with an almost militaristic quality, he does temper that by allowing a modicum of freedom and flexibility to his players. The laid-back saxophone playing and amusingly louche solo trombone certainly give this 'Boléro' an engaging character and welcome individuality.
This disc is an unexpected success and, even amongst the many available alternatives of these works, is highly recommended.
Copyright © 2010 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net