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Ravel: Boléro, Concerto For The Left Hand / Immerseel, Chevallier


Release Date: 02/12/2008 
Label:  Zig Zag   Catalog #: 60901   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Claire Chevallier
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Ravel on period instruments brings results of striking clarity

When Maurice Ravel’s orchestrations benefit so clearly from being played on modern instruments (see page 71), it may seem odd to have a disc of works on period instruments. In fact this well planned disc demonstrates very clearly what striking results can emerge, most of all in the work that most seriously runs the risk of being hackneyed, Boléro. Ravel himself regarded this as essentially an exercise in orchestration, with purely musical content minimised, and here what makes the performance so fascinating – much more compelling than usual – is the way that van Immerseel and his players bring out the contrasts between the different instruments. The
Read more tendency has been in recent years for all woodwind instruments to sound similar in their smoothness, a process encouraged by Herbert von Karajan as a key influential figure. Here, with distinctive French-made instruments, the timbre of the different sections is sharply contrasted, giving a new and refreshing perspective to each contrasted instrumentation of the persistent tune. Also, the little portamento slides that Ravel marks in places for the brass sound even more natural than usual.

In short, it is the perfect showcase for period instruments from early in the 20th century. As an added point of authenticity, van Immerseel, using the composer’s own recordings, has researched very closely what speed Ravel wanted for a piece that is often taken too fast, here with pace nicely judged to allow the springing of rhythms so that in no way does it sound laboured. Similarly, the 1905 Erard piano used in the Left-Hand Concerto, with its rather clangy, clattering tone, gives extra clarity to the flourishes in the piano part. With Claire Chevallier a most sensitive soloist, very French in style, the piano is the more clearly defined over the highly original, generally low-lying orchestration, growling up from nowhere at the start. Also the Spanish flavours come out the more vividly in the later sections of this single-movement work, as of course they do in van Immmerseel’s reading of the Rapsodie espagnole.

The extra clarity is most refreshing, not least in the final item, La valse. If the choice of works might initially seem unadventurous or even arbitrary, in fact van Immerseel and his talented players consistently prove their point on the merits of Ravel on period instruments.

Edward Greenfield, The GRAMOPHONE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Boléro by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; France 
2.
Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; France 
3.
Concerto for Piano left hand in D major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Claire Chevallier (Piano)
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1930; France 
4.
Rapsodie espagnole by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1908; France 
5.
La valse by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; France 

Sound Samples

Bolero
Pavane pour une infante defunte (version for orchestra)
Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
Rapsodie espagnole: I. Prelude a la nuit
Rapsodie espagnole: II. Malaguena
Rapsodie espagnole: III. Habanera
Rapsodie espagnole: IV. Feria
La valse (version for orchestra)

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