WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Ravel: The Orchestral Works / Pierre Boulez


Release Date: 01/14/1991 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 45842   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Harold GombergPhilippe Entremont
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York PhilharmonicCamerata SingersCleveland Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 43 Mins. 

Special Order: This CD requires additional production time and ships within 2-3 business days.  
On sale!
ArkivCD  $31.99
Special Order



This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

With interpretations showing this degree of perception one hears the music almost as if for the first time - these are versions of striking individuality that demand to be heard.

Throughout the set, it is not only Boulez's astonishing concern for clarity, but his ability to pinpoint the importance of details, that impress. In the Menuet antique, the bassoon in the trio refers back to the main theme. Boulez makes quite sure you hear it (Dutoit loses it under the oboe and clarinet). And, as with the best of his Debussy, his long-term control of a flexible pace and use of rubato is masterly—I'm thinking of the strange and beautiful second waltz from the Valses nobles et sentimentales, and the fabulous halting lilt of the
Read more seventh...

The pearls in this set are undoubtedly the complete scores for Ma mere l'oye and Daphnis et Chloe. The New York Philharmonic plays with exquisite refinement of tone, textures are crystalline, melodies and fragments of melody have shape (though Chloe's dance of supplication is possibly too angular), and pacing a sense of both musical and dramatic purpose... [T]hese are versions of striking individuality that demand to be heard.

-- Gramophone [2/1991]

-----------------------------------------------

Most of these performances have been issued here before, others not. But all are remarkable. Their extreme clarity, matched at all points by exceptional recording, is of the sort Ravel himself always wanted, each detail being interpreted with an exactitude that is poetic rather than prosaic. This complete Daphnis et Chloé, for instance, confirms the impression made by Boulez's account of Suite No. 2—with the Cleveland Orchestra (CBS 72975, 2172—now deleted)—having a vernal freshness and a feeling of timelessness that are most apt for classical legend (if Longus is not too late to be considered classical).

Une barque sur ocean, here heard in its second transcription, is, likewise, quiet, rapt, distant, and very beautiful. The other extreme is represented by the Bolero, in which it could be said that nothing happens except the orchestration: Boulez is suitably implacable here. The early pages of La valse, too, are both suave and sinister, and the definition of the bass pizzicatos at the start is one example out of scores that could be given of the clarity of these recordings throughout the full range of pitch and dynamics. At the other end of this piece the "representation of chaos", as it might be called, is frightening and it is extraordinary to think this was written by the composer of the elegant, precise Tombeau de Couperin. Perhaps those who talk of Ravel's great limitations as a composer should reconsider.

Admittedly, Le tombeau de Couperin gives rise to some of my very few reservations about these performances. In the "Minuet" the woodwind should be much quieter than they are on the last page, just after fig. 15; so, too, should the oboes in the central section of the "Rigaudon". However, an interestingly bucolic note is struck in the "Prelude", and the "Forlane" has a delicious dryness. Indeed, it is worth saying that some of these interpretations may not appeal at first. Initially I thought the Valses nobles et sentimentales brusque and charmless, but further hearings convinced me very much otherwise. And this work provides another fine illustration of the clarity of these recordings, in the "Epilogue", where the strings are divided into 18 parts.

Boulez's view of Ma Mere l'Oye is more dramatic than, say, that of Monteux, as in the "Prelude" or "Danse de rouet". More surprising, to some, will be his successful identification with the early Shéhérazade Overture (1898), a piece that includes much use of the whole-tone scale and interesting percussion scoring for purposes of oriental evocation. Incidentally, the accompanying booklet is wrong to imply that there is no link between this piece and the song cycle of the same name, the opening theme of "Ask", the later work's first movement, deriving from the overture's first theme. Another study in relatively exotic idioms is the Rapsodie espagnole, Ravel's next orchestral work after the two Shéhérazades, and a piece of great virtuosity, of vivid rhythm and colour. Boulez responds acutely to the daring invention and violent contrasts of this score.

The catalogues show many other versions of most of these pieces and there may seem little point in still further performances. Yet with interpretations showing this degree of perception one hears the music almost as if for the first time. An unexpected instance is the Menuet antique, Ravel's first published work (1895): even Haitink had not led me to realize how brilliant is the composer's 1929 orchestration.

-- Max Harrison, Gramophone [10/1979, reviewing the LP box set, CBS Masterworks 79404]
Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Menuet antique by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895; France 
Date of Recording: 05/1975 
Length: 7 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestrated: Ravel (1929) 
2. La valse by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; France 
Date of Recording: 05/1975 
Length: 13 Minutes 1 Secs. 
3. Daphnis et Chloé by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Singers,  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909-1912; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1975 
Length: 54 Minutes 38 Secs. 
4. Ouverture de féerie "Shéhérazade" by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1898; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1979 
Length: 14 Minutes 54 Secs. 
5. Rapsodie espagnole by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1908; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1972 
Length: 14 Minutes 50 Secs. 
6. Valses nobles et sentimentales by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; France 
Date of Recording: 05/1974 
Length: 14 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestrated: Ravel (1912) 
7. Ma mère l'oye by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 05/1975 
Length: 27 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestrated: Ravel (1911)
Composition written: France (1908 - 1910). 
8. L'éventail de Jeanne: Fanfare by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1979 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
9. Miroirs: Alborada del gracioso by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1905; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1972 
Length: 7 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestrated: Ravel 
10. Le tombeau de Couperin by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Harold Gomberg (Oboe)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1917; orch. 191; France 
Date of Recording: 05/1974 
Length: 17 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestrated: Ravel (1919) 
11. Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1972 
Length: 6 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestrated: Ravel (1910) 
12. Miroirs: Une barque sur l'océan by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1905; France 
Date of Recording: 05/1974 
Length: 7 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestrated: Ravel 
13. Boléro by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1979 
Length: 15 Minutes 30 Secs. 
14. Concerto for Piano left hand in D major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Philippe Entremont (Piano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1930; France 
Date of Recording: 03/1973 
Length: 18 Minutes 35 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook