Ravel: L’enfant et les sortilèges; Ma mère l’oye

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Ravel
LABELS: Warner Classics
WORKS: L’enfant et les sortilèges; Ma mère l’oye
PERFORMER: Magdalena Koźená, Annick Massis, Nathalie Stutzmann, Sophie Koch, José van Dam, François Le Roux, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin Radio Choir/Sir Simon Rattle
CATALOGUE NO: 264 1972

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Ravel’s opera L’enfant et les sortilèges and ballet Ma mère l’oye make an exquisite pairing. Whether for children, or about childhood, it’s hard to find them anything other than adorable.

Rattle’s first recording of the ballet was superlative, but this second rendering is, if anything, better, taking full advantage of the Berlin Phil’s exceptional colours. The opera, though, does not quite live up to expectations. Magdalena Kožená only intermittently seems to remember that she is supposed to be a naughty child, not a refined woman.

Nathalie Stutzmann is similarly variable in her characterisation, being an impressive Maman, but a rather dull china cup. François Le Roux’s broken clock lacks panic, though he later transmoggyfies into a very convincing cat. Annick Massis is marvellous, whether as the Fire, Princess or Nightingale.

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Despite much beautiful singing and some gorgeous playing, however, this newcomer falls short of Maazel’s classic account never mind Bour’s historic recording. Christopher Dingle