Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé

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COMPOSERS: Ravel
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Daphnis et Chloé
PERFORMER: LSO & Chorus/Kent Nagano
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-91712-2 DDD
As its subtitle suggests, Ravel’s ‘Choreographic Symphony’ is that rare thing, an amalgam of balletic narrative with the musical and developmental thinking of a symphony. In the perfect performance, both of these aspects are in balance. Nagano, though, falls short by tending to emphasise the moment at the expense of its place in the whole. Thus, while the different sections and dances are tended to with great care, there is a detached quality about the performance that negates the score’s dramatic flow. Similarly, there is a feeling of austerity about the orchestral sound, as if the drama is taking place in the cold light of day rather than the mystical antique world of Ravel’s imagination – this is his most opulent score and the Erato recording falls short too by both clouding detail and lacking that necessary sumptuous glow. Compare this performance with Dutoit’s on Decca and you soon sense what is missing – the sheer enjoyment of recreating Ravel’s miraculous sound world. There is nevertheless some excellent orchestral playing from the LSO and a fine contribution from the LSO Chorus.

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The booklet admirably contains a detailed synopsis, allying each CD track to the individual stage instructions of Fokine’s scenario. Matthew Rye