RAVEL Daphnis et Chloé • Laurent Petitgirard, cond; Bordeaux Aquitaine O; Bordeaux Op Ch • NAXOS 8.570075 (59: 16)
My first thought upon receiving this CD for review was, “What rotten luck that it should appear almost simultaneously with Myung-Whun Chung’s sumptuous new recording on DG with L’Orchestre Philharmonique and the Radio France Chorus.” My second thought was, “How competitive is it likely to be with classic recordings—in a number of cases now available on midpriced or budget releases—byRead more Ansermet, Boulez, Dutoit, Monteux, Munch, Ozawa, Previn, and one or two others?” Both concerns may be addressed as follows: even if you already own one or more of the above-named recordings and are satisfied, you need to consider this new one if you are serious about this score. I can tell you without hesitation that the Naxos entry is really outstanding; in fact, I’d go so far as to call it thrilling.
Citing just two examples in particular, listen to the passage beginning at 4:14 of the “Les rires s’interrompent” (“Interrupted Laughter”) tableau, where the violas make their entrance. The richness of the sound is palpable. The chorus too, throughout “Derrière la scène, on entend des voix” (the off-stage voices scene) is as disembodied and other-worldly as Ravel must have intended. Moreover, the massed orchestral climaxes are shattering.
I’m sure this is not an original observation, but as I listened again to Ravel’s score, (which I hadn’t listened to in quite some time) I was struck by just how much of it, premiered by Pierre Monteux in 1912, anticipates Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps of just one year later. One hears textures and even near quotations of entire measures from the former in the latter. Both scores were produced by the great Russian ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev. Michel Fokine was co-choreographer for the Ravel, and he and Diaghilev did not see eye to eye on a number of issues, leading to an eventual fracturing of the relationship. Daphnis of course sets a very different narrative from that of Le sacre. Ravel’s “choreographic symphony,” as he described it, is based on a pastoral tale ascribed to an early Greek poet named Longus. Daphnis and Chloé, both orphaned in infancy on the island of Lesbos, are raised by shepherds. They fall in love; Daphnis teaches Chloé to play the pipes he fashions from reeds; Chloé is abducted by pirates, but is rescued by the god Pan, and is restored to Daphnis amid general rejoicing.
It may sound naive, but it drew from Ravel what is quite likely his greatest work. Scored for enormous forces—two flutes, alto flute, piccolo, two oboes, English horn, E?-clarinet, two clarinets, bass-clarinet, three bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, bass-drum, field-drum, tam-tam, wind machine, triangle, castanets, tambourine, celesta, crotales (aka antique cymbals), glockenspiel, two harps, strings, and wordless choir—Daphnis and Chloé is not only Ravel’s longest work; it contains some of the most passionate and lush music he wrote.
Laurent Petitgirard and his Bordeaux forces do it full justice. Where it needs to be, the performance is powerful, sweeping, intimate, and erotically charged; and the recording is magnificent. This Daphnis and Chloé can hold its own against any of them, and at Naxos’s budget price, it’s a steal.
Daphnis et Chloéby Maurice Ravel Conductor:
Bordeaux Aquitaine Orchestra,
Bordeaux Grand-Theatre Chorus
Period: 20th Century Written: 1909-1912; France Venue: Franklin Hall, Bordeaux, France Length: 59 Minutes 16 Secs. Language: French Notes: Franklin Hall, Bordeaux, France (01/03/2006 - 01/05/2006)
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
One of the Best Daphnis DiscsNovember 25, 2011By Christian Withers (San Antonio, TX)See All My Reviews"I'm one of those fanatics who has owned or heard dozens of recordings of this piece, so hopefully that at least qualifies me to write this review! Up to now, my favorite digital recording of this work was Boulez on DG, which is excellent in every way. It is now a toss up. My favorite classic analog recordings are those conducted by Monteux and Martinon. You can hear details in the Martinon that are inaudible in most others, and there's something special in the Monteux that makes it unique and indispensable. But this newer disc conducted by Petitgirard is just as good in its own way: a fresh interpretation, vivid digital sound and budget price! Worth purchasing, either for those who are new to the work or fanatical collectors like me! "Report Abuse