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Ravel: Chansons Madecasses, Sites Auriculaires / DeGaetani, Kalish, Jacobs

Release Date: 05/07/1992 
Label:  Nonesuch   Catalog #: 71355   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Paul DunkelDonald AndersonGilbert KalishJan DeGaetani,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

It would be difficult to imagine more impeccable ensemble than that of Jacobs and Kalish, and Jan DeGaetani, a singer of exceptional intelligence and beauty of voice, gives a vivid reading of Chansons madécasses.

This disc is a 'must' for all Ravelians, consisting as it does of near-exemplary recordings of first-class performances, mostly of works not otherwise currently available. The premiere of Sites auriculaires in 1898 marked Ravel's formal debut as a composer, but the performance was so disastrous that he promptly withdrew these duos, which were published posthumously only four years ago. The Satieesque title implies two "aural evocations" of places: the Habanera, which was later adopted as a
Read more movement of the Rapsodie espagnole, antedates Debussy's Soirée dons Grenade (which is remarkably similar) and is the first instance of that exploitation by Ravel of an obsessive repeated note which was eventually to produce "Le gibet" in Gaspard de la nuit; the bell-sounds of Entre cloches were also to be a recurrent interest of his. It would be difficult to imagine more impeccable ensemble than that of Paul Jacobs and Gilbert Kalish, and their balance and finely graded dynamics are equally impressive. The other two-piano piece. the brief Frontispiece written in 1918 to preface a collection of poems, is all but unknown: its thick polymetric and polytonal texture, complete with birdcalls, plainly foreshadows Messiaen.

Polytonality, and an austere economy that makes the strongest contrast to the luxurious style of earlier works like Daphnis et Chloe, are the main features of the Duo Sonata of 1920-2; but the eloquent and accomplished performance here dispels any notion of the charge of aridity which has attached to it. The springy bitonal scherzo is brilliantly played, and the vivacity of the finale is irresistible (with some splendid spiccato by Isidore Cohen): in fact the only mild criticism I have is that in the first movement the return to the initial tempo at the recapitulation is a trifle abrupt.

Parny's Chansons madécasses, published in 1787, were not authentically Madagascan at all, but their sensuous exoticism was enough to fire Ravel's inspiration when he was commissioned by Mrs Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge in 1925; although sparingly written, and again making much use of ostinatos, their instrumentation is marvellously imaginative (as for example the echoing by cello harmonics of the piccolo's final three notes in its lowest register). Both Felicity Palmer, who recorded the songs for Argo, and Jan DeGaetani are singers of exceptional intelligence, musicianship and beauty of voice, and both have excellent French. But exquisitely sung as was Miss Palmer's performance, Miss DeGaetani's holds more in the way of character: she conveys more vividly, for instance, the poet's amorous excitement at the approach of the beautiful Nahandove in the first song. There is fine playing by the accompanying ensemble; but at the climax of the second song (where Miss DeGaetani enters into the bitterness of the words) the piano is too loud, obscuring the passage beginning "Le carnage fut long et terrible" and the flute's low-register quasi tromba effect.

-- Gramophone [8/1979]
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Works on This Recording

Chansons madécasses by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Paul Dunkel (Flute), Donald Anderson (Cello), Gilbert Kalish (Piano),
Jan DeGaetani (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925-1926; France 
Sites auriculaires by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Paul Jacobs (Piano), Gilbert Kalish (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895-1897; France 
Frontispice for 2 Pianos 5 hands by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Teresa Sterne (Piano), Gilbert Kalish (Piano), Paul Jacobs (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; France 
Sonata for Violin and Cello by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Tim Eddy (Cello), Isidore Cohen (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920-1922; France 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 A MUST INDEED October 23, 2014 By Zita Carno (Tampa, FL) See All My Reviews "I have had in my library, and have long enjoyed, Gerard Souzay's incredible performance of "Chansons madecasses"---one of the great French baritones---and now I will have a chance to hear a fine mezzo interpretation of same, plus several other Ravel pieces previous unknown to me. Thank you. I knew and have worked with Miss DeGaetani for a number of years, and she is indeed incredible." Report Abuse
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