What is so seductive about the performance is the way that Dutoit adopts an idiomatically flexible style, observing the minute indications of tempo change but making every slight variation sound totally spontaneous.
Never have I heard Ravel's score sounding quite so ravishing as on this new digital issue, not just a question of the engineers' work with its fine balancing and atmosphere, both spacious and detailed, but the playing of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. On this showing it is by far the finest French orchestra today, whatever they think in Paris. What is so seductive about the performance is the way that Dutoit adopts an idiomatically flexible style, observing the minute indications of tempo change butRead more making every slight variation sound totally spontaneous. Next to him both Mata—on the previous digital version from RCA—and more particularly Maazel (on Decca) sound metrical. Express (1 et souple is the marking over the flute solo in "Pantomime", and though no doubt the Cleveland flautist for Maazel has few rivals as an artist, it is the Montreal soloist who conveys the full evocative beauty of the passage, matching the conductor's persuasive style.
Dutoit's most controversial tempo is in the "Danse generale" at the end, dangerously fast, challenging the Montreal players to the limit. Both Maazel and Mata are far slower, but Dutoit justifies his speed in the way he builds the final climax, with the choral punctuations adding to a sense of frenzy just as one has always imagined in this passage but rarely heard at such intensity as here. It could hardly be more exciting. As the very opening reveals, the balancing of the chorus is near ideal, magically at a half-distance, where the Dallas chorus for Mata is too far away to provide any body, and Maazel's is too close and unethereal. Maazel's recording, of demonstration quality in its time, now falls well short of the digitals with woodwind and harp tending to be spotlit. Mata's version has one of the finest RCA recordings yet, but there is no doubt of the extra refinement of the new Decca, wonderfully luminous but opulent too with a wide dynamic range. This Decca debut by the Montreal orchestra could not be more promising, adding another important North American orchestra to a select list.
-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [4/1981, reviewing the original LP release] Read less
Works on This Recording
Daphnis et Chloéby Maurice Ravel
Montreal Symphony Orchestra,
Montreal Symphony Chorus
Period: 20th Century Written: 1909-1912; France Length: 56 Minutes 0 Secs.