Debussy, Ravel: Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé; Debussy: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune

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COMPOSERS: Debussy,Ravel
LABELS: OPMC
WORKS: Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé; Debussy: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
PERFORMER: Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra; Berlin Radio Choir/Yakov Kreizberg
CATALOGUE NO: OPMC 002

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Yakov Kreizberg spent little more than a season and a half with the Orchestre de Monte-Carlo before his death earlier this year. Nonetheless, in that time the orchestra’s own label was founded and he made several recordings with them, all related to the Ballets Russes. An impressive three-disc set of Stravinsky ballets set high standards, but this release, pairing the music of two ballets first staged in 1912, is less convincing.

There are flashes of brilliance, but the woodwind solos in the Debussy are only intermittently beguiling, and intonation is not always secure in Daphnis et Chloé. There appears to be too much concentration on the moment in Ravel’s score, possibly a result of the process. While the chorus is supposed to be off-stage, singing over 800 miles away on a different day seems a touch excessive. The orchestra was recorded in the striking Auditorium Rainier III in Monte Carlo, but the Berlin Radio Choir was captured in separate sessions in its home city.

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The irony is that the chorus seems all-too-present, without the necessary veiled sense of distance, yet parts of the orchestra, such as the brass in the ‘War dance’, sound remote. One advantage is that the choral writing can be heard in great detail, even in the hubbub of the final pages. Their accuracy is tremendous, but the conclusion is rather matter of fact from both chorus and orchestra. Christopher Dingle