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Ravel: Bolero, Rapsodie Espagnole / Barenboim, Chicago So


Release Date: 10/13/1992 
Label:  Erato   Catalog #: 45766   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Donald Peck
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The disc starts with the Daphnis Suite, and a cleanly articulated, closely balanced and clearly positioned texture for the opening of "Lever du jour". It's hard to forget the way Karajan's 1964 birdsong emerges from within, to hover above the unfolding crescendo here, but all the modern recordings that I've heard, whether closely balanced or not, seem to project the chirruping right from the start. At the moment of the lovers' embrace (two minutes on), Karajan's strings, less appealingly (to my ears) engulf all; Barenboim maximizes the moment (from 3'41") with a surge of speed, and with the Chicago trumpets peaking at triple forte (the marking is only forte). Typically, for Rattle (EMI, complete ballet), this is graded as a Read more moment on the way to the real climax a minute and a half later. In the following "Pantomime", Barenboim's tendency to accentuate harp and pizzicato string interjections, no doubt exaggerated by the close microphones, may strike some as a mannerism; and again, it's hard to forget Rattle's small descriptive and expressive miracles here. Barenboim's flute solo is initially very slow—this is unmistakably "un air melancholique"—and he seems loath to part company with the seductive purring of the alto flute at the end of the solo (from 10'17"), as he is to part company with the Suite's final bars. Chicago woodwinds reel and squeal with almost as much abandon in the "Danse genérale" as Karajan's 'possessed' Berliners, which is saying something.

The remainder of the programme has been grouped by Barenboim into "a kind of Spanish symphony in four movements"—an ingenious idea; and I like the way Barenboim emphasizes these scores' many quasi-guitarra effects, even adding one of his own in the return of Alborada de/gracioso's opening section (I'll leave you to discover that for yourself—at least as much fun as Reiner's RCA 'adjustment' of the castanet rhythm earlier on). You won't hear the Alborada's accents more sharply picked out either. The 'Symphony' opens with a dreamy Rapsodie espagnole: the Prelude very slow (though not as slow as Reiner), all atmosphere, and wafting in and out of our consciousness with fine control of the dims, from pp. Only the rhythmic tread of pizzicato basses suggests that the piece has one most of the time (a rhythm), and should move a little faster; the metronome, of course, suggests it too.

That unforgiving (some would say irrelevant) contraption happily confirms that Barenboim's BoICro begins at the same speed as it finishes—like those from Karajan and Rattle, quite a slow one (1 thought I detected a slight increase at. fig. II, 931"). But unlike Karajan's whose stereophonic side-drums are merely accompanied by the rest of the orchestra in the later stages of the work, this is a Bolero that maintains a good balance between rhythm and song throughout. Rattle's Bolero is quite the best of recent times; one which, to my shame, I seriously underestimated in my recent review. There is so much character in the shaping and contrasting of the wind solos; unrivalled management of the gradual crescendo, and a real release of tension at the modulation to E major— qualities that are only partially present in this Chicago version, whose recording doesn't open up ideally for that modulation or the cymbal and tam-tam capped conclusion.

Nevertheless, apart from a brief lapse of ensemble in the Rapsodie's "Feria" (after fig. 16, 342"), the Chicago orchestra's playing is rarely less than at its legendary best, and Barenboim is a stimulating Ravelian. If the coupling appeals, this disc is recommended.

-- Gramophone [12/1992]
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Works on This Recording

1. Boléro by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 15 Minutes 50 Secs. 
2. Daphnis et Chloé Suite no 2 by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Donald Peck (Flute)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 16 Minutes 30 Secs. 
3. Rapsodie espagnole by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1908; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 16 Minutes 2 Secs. 
4. Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 6 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestrated: Ravel (1910) 
5. Miroirs: Alborada del gracioso by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1905; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 7 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestrated: Ravel 

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