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Dukas: Sorcerer's Apprentice; Ravel: Mother Goose; Koechlin: Les Bandar-log / Albrecht, Strasbourg Philharmonic

Dukas / Orch Philharmonic De Strasbourg / Marc
Release Date: 07/27/2010 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186336   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Paul DukasMaurice RavelCharles Koechlin
Conductor:  Marc Albrecht
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  
SuperAudio CD:  $18.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.



DUKAS The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. RAVEL Mother Goose. KOECHLIN The Jungle Book: Les Bandar-log Marc Albrecht, cond; Strasbourg PO Read more class="ARIAL12"> PENTATONE 5186336 (SACD: 57:26)

I think that Marc Albrecht is rapidly becoming one of my favorite conductors. His work on the Berg album for this same label, as well as accompaniment credits for the recent Schumann-Dvo?ák piano concertos album, show him as a man with a lot to say and a very deep understanding of the music he engages. On this album the fare lightens up somewhat, yet again Albrecht shows himself a master of many idioms.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is one of the most popular pieces of all time, certainly one of the first classical works that we all become familiar with at an early age, probably because of Mickey Mouse, whose Disney cartoon fairly strictly follows the story by Goethe, Der Zauberlehring. It is no piece of cake for any orchestra, and only the best can pull off what is essentially a concerto for the same. This one now becomes one of my favorites, with fantastic surround sound, and joins Bernstein, Ormandy, López-Cobos, and Levine as the most exciting and best played.

Mother Goose is another fan-favorite, and there are so many it is almost impossible to pick the best one. I will mention Fanfare colleague Christopher Abbot, who in 28:2 chose the Paavo Järvi/Cincinnati all-Ravel recording for his Want List (that one is also in Super Audio). I have not heard it but can certainly imagine it as being everything Abbot says it is, “an unalloyed pleasure.” I continue to favor Boulez/Sony, Martinon/EMI, Dutoit/Montreal, and now this new one from Albrecht, also in surround sound and taking advantage of every extra kHz that DSD offers. I should note that this is not the suite (which Tilson Thomas gives us on his Sony/Philharmonia reading) but the complete ballet. The piece was brought to life as a children’s piano duet (in the form the suite is usually given now) and later transcribed for solo piano. In 1912 Ravel orchestrated it into a ballet and added “Prélude,” “Danse du rouet et scène,” and some interludes. This reading does not linger; those wanting to luxuriate in Ravel’s masterly orchestration would be better off looking to Dutoit. The tempo moves along, though not in an unruly manner, but the Strasbourg Philharmonic plays with splash after splash of gorgeous color, aided by the perfectly placed sonic ambiance, and makes the revelry one of palpability as well as orchestral shading.

The fly in the ointment for many will be the inclusion of Charles Koechlin’s Les Bandar-log from his series of tone poems called The Jungle Book after Kipling, a large piece he spent more than 50 years working on! In this work, the “Bandar-log” refers to a troop of monkeys (the name in Hindi meaning “monkey”) who kidnap Mowgli, the little boy who was left by his parents in the jungle to be brought up by a pack of wolves and whose character the stories are centered on. I’ll leave the details of the story to be discovered by you; suffice it to say that Koechlin—whose music gets an undeservedly bad rap, and is quite wild, descriptive, and brilliant—conjures up a bucketful of marvelous music that forcefully illustrates Kipling’s madcap conception. The only other recording I would even think of listening to is the complete Jungle Book on RCA conducted by David Zinman, currently available on ArkivMusic as a made-to-order selection—and pricey.

Those wanting just a sampling of Koechlin’s orchestral music would do well to start here. With the added incentive of the two other pieces marvelously played, this release offers much. Bravo PentaTone!

FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
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Works on This Recording

L'apprenti sorcier by Paul Dukas
Conductor:  Marc Albrecht
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; France 
Ma mère l'oye by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Marc Albrecht
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Les bandar-log, Op. 176 by Charles Koechlin
Conductor:  Marc Albrecht
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939-1940; France 

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