Ravel, Ibert, Debussy, Jolivet & Franaix

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COMPOSERS: Debussy,Ibert,Jolivet & Franaix,Ravel
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Ensemble Wien-Berlin
WORKS: Works By Ravel, Ibert, Debussy, Jolivet & Françaix
PERFORMER: Ensemble Wien-Berlin
CATALOGUE NO: SK 62666
Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro and Debussy’s late Sonata for flute, viola and harp are slightly awkward, but inevitable companions. Time and again they appear together at concerts or on recordings, but, beyond the quirks of instrumentation which repeatedly place them in close proximity, the two pieces profess to have little in common. Nevertheless, having been surrounded too often by inferior company, they seem to have developed a certain fondness for each other.

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As a juxtaposition between works possessing superficial similarities, the Debussy and Ravel make a potent coupling. In fact, it is often too potent, causing works which usually sound perfectly fine to seem gauche in comparison. The Ensemble Wien-Berlin’s earlier account of these two works (Deutsche Grammophon) was an enticing, but claustrophobically recorded recital, venturing no further than Debussy and Ravel. On this occasion, they sound more natural, though the performances are occasionally too languid. Jolivet’s Chant de Linos manages not to embarrass itself, but Ibert’s Trois pièces brèves burst in like children naughty children at a party for grown-ups. On another day they would be engagingly amusing, but here they are just tiresome. Françaix’s Octuor is not a bad piece, yet only reveals the limitations of its ambition. Christopher Dingle