LABELS: Zig Zag Territories
ALBUM TITLE: Ravel • Musorgsky/Ravel
WORKS: Ravel: Me mere l’oye; Musorgsky/Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition
PERFORMER: Anima Eterna Brugge/Jos van Immerseel
CATALOGUE NO: ZZT343
These scores show Ravel’s total command of the two extremes of the orchestral spectrum – the delicate/dreamlike and the mighty/multi-coloured – and I’m happy to say that Anima Eterna do justice to both. The use of mainly French wind instruments from the late 19th and early 20th centuries pays particular dividends in Ma mère l’oye, where the woodwind playing sends shivers down the spine. In ‘Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête’, the contrabassoon too tempers the bizarre with the affecting, making Beauty’s response entirely understandable. The strings match this atmosphere of tender magic and every note is considered.
Harshness is left to the Musorgsky, in which the characterisation is as sharp as a needle, with terrifying catacombs and spookily surrealist huts on chickens’ legs. I like the way Jos van Immerseel tailors the trumpet’s promenade theme with a final diminuendo, personalising what in some hands sounds merely robotic, while the saxophone’s perdendo at the end of ‘Il vecchio castello’ is breathtaking – for the player, literally.