Ravel, Stravinsky

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Ravel;Stravinsky
ALBUM TITLE: Ravel;Stravinsky
WORKS: Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2; Rapsodie Espagnole: Stravinsky
Chant du Rossignol; Firebird Suite
PERFORMER: New York Philharmonic/Lorin Maazel
CATALOGUE NO: 477 7175


Deutsche Grammophon’s series of concert downloads has been a success in its own terms, but this CD release is testimony that many collectors still want a physical object with a professionally produced booklet. This is a relatively lavish production, with a fairly substantial glossy booklet to match a recording that is stunning for CD (making DG’s timid retreat from SACD all the more infuriating). These four scores are a showcase for sumptuous orchestration and the New York Philharmonic sounds magnificent. Yet beyond the surface beauty, these performances do not have much to say about the music. Leaving aside the absence of the chorus from Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, there is little sense that this is ballet music. The woodwind solos in the central panel are stylishly played, but the opening sunrise is accompanied not so much by forest murmurs as mutterings; and under Maazel’s stewardship, it seems to be cocoa that fuels the ‘Danse Bacchanale’, rather than the overflowing wine of Dutoit’s orgiastic account (Decca). The Firebird’s ‘Infernal Dance’ is leaden-footed, lacking the visceral excitement generated by Bernstein with the same orchestra (Sony). There are numerous instances of glorious playing throughout – the opening of Rapsodie Espagnol is exquisite – but none of the works takes wing when it really matters. Christopher Dingle