Ravel: Bolero; Rapsodie espagnole; Pavane; Alborada del gracioso; Daphnis and Chloë (Suite No. 2)

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COMPOSERS: Ravel
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Bolero; Rapsodie espagnole; Pavane; Alborada del gracioso; Daphnis and Chloë (Suite No. 2)
PERFORMER: Chicago SO/Daniel Barenboim
CATALOGUE NO: 2292-45766-2 DDD
The friend who said he could not listen to Daphnis and Chloë because it was too beautiful must have been thinking of a performance like this. Without a chorus, the sunrise scene just manages to avoid wallowing beyond the point of no return in the wondrous sounds of the Chicago players; but strings cloy in the transition to the Pantomime, which places strains on a desperately slow flute solo. Inflationary tendencies continue to afflict the rest of the disc, dragging out the slow music and removing the bite from the fast. There is an easy-going lilt to the more mobile dances in the Rapsodie espagnole, but the Alborada alternates between the mechanically rigid and the loose. Bolero, at nearly 16 minutes, becomes something of a plod, and for all their skill, many of the solos sound self-conscious. The recording makes some detail, especially from woodwind, appear unrealistically close, but has good depth of tone. Robert Maycock

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