ALBUM TITLE: Ravel
WORKS: Daphnis et Chloé
PERFORMER: Radio France Choir & PO/Myung-Whun Chung
CATALOGUE NO: 477 5706
Daphnis et Chloé has fared extremely well on disc. It is a work that so often brings out the very best in orchestras and conductors that the litany of ‘classic’ performances is extensive. It also provides the kind of challenge that gets recording engineers salivating. It is a pity, then, that DG appears to have become shy of SACD, for if there was ever a work for new formats, Daphnis is it. Instead, we have here a curious mélange of a recording, with some details crystal-clear and others sinking into a soft-centred middle-ground.
Monteux’s famous 1959 account has been recently reissued in Decca’s ‘The Originals’ series, and though lacking the supersonic engineering of recent efforts it remains essential listening. Myung-Whun Chung’s pedigree in all things French, allied to glowing reports of his work with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, raises great hopes for another magnificent account of Ravel’s masterpiece. Sadly, though there is much to admire, like the recording, Chung falls short of even his recent rivals. There is his usual finesse, but he lacks the drive and raw energy of Dutoit (Decca) or Boulez (DG). Chung is actually faster than Boulez in the Bachannale, but seems to take longer, while his pirates seem to be shopping rather than pillaging. Chung does not displace Boulez in DG’s catalogue, and Dutoit remains unsurpassed among digital versions. Christopher Dingle