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London Chamber Orchestra Plays Ravel, Faure, Poulenc, Ibert

London Chamber Orchestra / Roge / Green
Release Date: 09/27/2011 
Label:  Signum Classics   Catalog #: 211   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Maurice RavelGabriel FauréFrancis PoulencJacques Ibert
Performer:  Pascal Rogé
Conductor:  Christopher Warren-Green
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

RAVEL Le Tombeau de Couperin. Pavane pour une infante défunte. FAURÉ Pavane. POULENC Piano Concerto. IBERT Divertissement Christopher Warren-Green, cond; London CO; Pascal Rogé (pn) SIGNUM SIGCD211(66:09) Live: London 5/25/2008; 4/21/2010

This CD has been a happy surprise. I worried initially, as Read more one does at the thought of a chamber orchestra undertaking orchestral repertoire, that the sense of scale might demand a listener’s indulgence at critical moments. Chamber orchestras can sometimes strain to project power, and in so doing give the impression of a larger orchestra thinly recorded. But the London Chamber Orchestra is a fairly large group of about 65. Here, if there is any criticism, it is that the Ravel and Fauré pieces, set down on a separate program, have been recorded almost too closely by the engineers. The venue is St. John’s, Smith Square, London, which is capable of a bit more air around the sound, as the Poulenc and Ibert works happily reveal.

But even so, the refinement and sense of scale immediately evident in Christopher Warren-Green’s performance of Tombeau make one forget any concerns. A little claustrophobia in the presence of death never hurts. Ravel composed two orchestral war works, La Valse, which speaks from the dark side of gaiety, and the four orchestral Couperin selections taken here from his piano suite. They are played beautifully. Le Tombeau de Couperin projects an alabaster moonlit dignity. It has always reminded me a bit of Henri Rousseau’s painting The Sleeping Gypsy, where, passing in the night, a lion bends over a sleeping human figure with something approaching metaphysical respect. And one could hardly ask more of the two pavanes than that they be solemn and flowing, as done here.

But my enthusiasm for these performances is only augmented when we come to the Poulenc Piano Concerto and the Ibert Divertissement. I’m immediately struck by how soft and appealing Pascal Rogé’s piano sounds in the acoustic environment. And the orchestral complement manages considerable warmth, while at the same time scaling down the blattyness that can sometimes infect the piece. Poulenc and Ibert are tricky composers to get right. Imagine a pair of French Leonard Bernsteins who don’t seem to know from one moment to the next when not to burst into “Officer Krupke” from West Side Story , and you have the essence of the problem. Find the wit, but deep-six the razzmatazz.

Happily, Christopher Warren-Green has their measure and keeps them within bounds. More importantly, he finds the sincerity in the music and you come away liking it. The slow movement of the Piano Concerto conveys a timeless sadness, and the quiet atmospherics in the Ibert are as enjoyable as the more motoric moments. Notes by Peter Quantrill, too, have a special and direct charm. You can’t really improve on his description of the Nocturne: “You can almost see Belmondo and rings of cigarette smoke through the light string haze”. Exactly. And of course, New York listeners familiar with WQXR will hear “Parade” and know it is time for lunch! Bon appétit!

FANFARE: Steven Kruger
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Works on This Recording

Le tombeau de Couperin by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Christopher Warren-Green
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1917; orch. 191; France 
Pavane, Op. 50 by Gabriel Fauré
Conductor:  Christopher Warren-Green
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; France 
Concerto for Piano by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Pascal Rogé (Piano)
Conductor:  Christopher Warren-Green
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; France 
Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Christopher Warren-Green
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; France 
Divertissement by Jacques Ibert
Conductor:  Christopher Warren-Green
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; France 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Enjoyable, but some recording balance issues September 18, 2012 By R Gregory Capaldini (Arlington, VA) See All My Reviews "I love this repertoire unreservedly, and I encourage similarly-minded people to acquire this program. That said, I'm actually a bit more bothered about recording balance issues than the first reviewer. For example, there's a moment in the Ravel Pavane where a bassoon outmuscles the entire first violin section, and the last movement of the Tombeau sometimes sounds like a trumpet concerto. Though I'm a fan of Pascal Roge, I found instances where his over-prominent solo in the Poulenc upstaged important woodwind solos. The least trouble with balances comes in the Ibert, a lean and sassy reading that finally -- FINALLY -- comes close to my ideal reading, Fremeaux's in Birmingham in 1973. In sum, it's been a pleasure hearing certain details in these pieces that I've missed before, but the disc makes the conductor seem a tad careless about balance, which I doubt to be the case." Report Abuse
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