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Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe; Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte; Alborado Del Gracioso; Rapsodie Espagnole

Ravel / Haitink / Concertgebouw Orch
Release Date: 06/01/2010 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 4802381   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 0 Hours 57 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

RAVEL Daphnis et Chloé: Suites Nos. 1 and 2 . Pavane pour une infante défunte. Alborado del gracioso. Rapsodie espagnole Bernard Haitink, cond; Concertgebouw O, Amsterdam DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 2381 (56:58)

It’s a pleasure to see this collection on CD. For one thing, the performances are terrific. For another, Haitink unveils a rarity. Many years ago, I saw a production of the complete Daphnis and Read more Chloe at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, popularly acronymed as “SPAC.” Except that it wasn’t quite complete. When he arrived at the choral interlude, the conductor, Robert Irving, skipped to the Danse Guerrière and the performance continued to the end. I thought I understood the reason. It would be expensive for the New York City Ballet to move an entire chorus up to Saratoga Springs so it was practical to just skip it. How they performed the ballet in New York, I do not know. I also did not know that Ravel, anticipating that ballet companies normally don’t hire their own choruses, provided an alternative: an instrumental version of the choral interlude. Were George Balanchine and Irving aware of its existence? The premiere of the ballet took place in 1912. If I have the sequence of events right, Ravel issued the Suite No. 1 in 1911 and authorized the use of an organ in place of the chorus in the interlude. He may have decided that the organ wasn’t appropriate (has any one ever used one in Daphnis ?) so in 1912, he wrote an orchestral version of the interlude for companies that could not afford a chorus when performing the complete ballet. The popular, even ubiquitous, Suite No. 2 came later. Haitink’s Suite No. 1 was recorded 10 years later (1971) than the other pieces on this CD but there is no conspicuous difference in the sound. By 1961, producers had figured out how to use the Concertgebouw’s acoustics to the best advantage so there was apparently little change in recording technique over the decade. I assume that Number 1 was intended to be coupled with some unrecorded (by Haitink) Ravel pieces. It was joined on LP by the complete Mother Goose ballet but Philips reissued Haitink’s by now deleted Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2 to fill out the disc. I wonder if there was a rejected Valses nobles et sentimentales and Une Barque sur l’océan. To finally get to the point, Haitink uses Ravel’s alternative orchestration in the Suite No. 1. The only conductor I know of who also did it on a recording is György Lehel. Most listeners, with the sound of the chorus in their ears, may find it disconcerting but it gives what is already an extremely beautiful performance of the suite some novelty value. In fact, these are all exemplary performances, gorgeously played and recorded with the clarity and rich sonority the Concergebouw was noted for. This comes from someone whose ears have been ravished by Ravel recordings by Barenboim, Martinon, and Reiner (Chicago), Muti and Ormandy (Philadelphia), and Munch (Boston and, especially, Paris). The Pavane , taken at a more measured pace than usual, is eloquence itself, the Alborado is virtuosity itself, and the Rapsodie , with its silky strings, is sensuousness itself. This is not “just another Ravel collection.”

To end with an anecdote about the premiere of Daphnis : The dancers were having great difficulty in handling the tricky 5/4 meter of the final General Dance. Ravel solved the problem by advising them not to count “1-2-3-4-5” but, instead, to say “Ser-gei Dia-ghi-lev, Ser-gei Dia-ghi-lev” to themselves as they were dancing!

FANFARE: James Miller
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Works on This Recording

Daphnis et Chloé Suite no 1 by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1971 
Venue:  Grotezaal, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The 
Length: 11 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Daphnis et Chloé Suite no 2 by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1961 
Venue:  Grotezaal, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The 
Length: 15 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1961 
Venue:  Grotezaal, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The 
Length: 6 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Miroirs: Alborada del gracioso by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1905; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1961 
Venue:  Grotezaal, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The 
Length: 7 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Rapsodie espagnole by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1908; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1961 
Venue:  Grotezaal, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The 
Length: 15 Minutes 16 Secs. 

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