WORKS: Le tombeau de Couperin; Pavane pour une infante défunte; Ma mère l’oye; Une barque sur l’océan; Alborada del gracioso
PERFORMER: Lyon National Opera Orchestra/Kent Nagano
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-14331-2
The works on this disc are unified by the fact that each was originally composed for the piano. But the real stars of the recording are the wind players of the Lyon National Opera Orchestra, who excel themselves in passages such as the central section of the Rigaudon of Le tombeau – its hint of Eastern promise here accentuated by their delicious phrasing and articulation – and in the carefully balanced chords of the Prélude and Pavane of Mother Goose, plus a marvellously bestial contrabassoon Beast in ‘Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête’.
Other highlights here are the sharp edge of nightmare in Une barque sur l’océan; the rhythmically crisp flamboyance of Alborada; and the Tombeau’s Prélude is full of fresh air.
Some elements let the disc down from time to time, nevertheless; Nagano misses the charm of the Forlane (Tombeau again) in favour of over-regimented rhythm, and the Pavane pour une infante défunte definitely misses the composer’s Gallic poise and is much too schmaltzy. (Ravel himself, as the booklet reminds us, had insisted that no lament was intended by the title, but simply the memory of some Spanish princess who might have danced the pavane court.) Jessica Duchen