Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Maurice Ravel, Jun Markl, Lyon National Orchestra|
Maurice Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé (Complete Ballet in Three Parts)
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Daphnis et Chloé - The Complete Ballet
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 05/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is rare to find a recording of the complete ballet 'Daphnis et Chloé'. Ravel made two suites from the music and the Second Suite, which includes the final numbers of the ballet, is the one we most often hear. (Indeed, I have never heard the entire ballet OR the First Suite in concert.) There is something to be said, then, for hearing the complete ballet, and this performance by conductor Jun Märkl and his forces is a wonderful experience. For one thing, the narrative of the ballet, based on an ancient tale, becomes clear and a fascinating thing it is. Daphnis and Chloé are lovers beset by a number of obstacles, not the least of which is a dance contest between Daphnis and his rival Dorcon, the winner to receive a kiss from Chloé. ('So You Think You Can Dance'?). Pirates arrive ('Pirates of the Aegean'?) and carry Chloé off. A statue of a Nymph comes to life and dances with her two companions. They take Daphnis to the god Pan whom Daphnis implores to save Chloé. Chloé is made to do a dance for the pirates but Pan appears and the pirates flee. Chloé is saved, is reunited with Daphnis and all dance with joy.
Jun Märkl is a rising German conductor who took over as director of the Orchestre National de Lyon in 2005. His previous recording with the Lyon orchestra of Debussy's 'La Mer', 'Jeux' and 'Afternoon of a Faun' was widely lauded. Debussy: La Mer; Prelude à l'Apres-midi d'un faune, as was his recording of the Debussy 'Nocturnes', 'Pélléas et Mélisande Symphonie' (as arranged by Roland Manuel) and 'Clair de lune' Debussy: Nocturnes; Clair de lune; Pelleas et Melisande - Symphonie.
The full ballet of 'Daphnis et Chloé' includes a chorus, in this case the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunkchor from Leipzig. Their singing is evocative. The individual first desks of the Lyon orchestra, as well as the full string, wind and brass complement, are outstanding. I was particular struck by the playing of the solo flute and cor anglais. The ability of Ravel to evoke ancient events, a musical sunrise with twittering birds, menacing pirates, the rivalry between Daphnis and Dorcon and the unfolding love of Daphnis and Chloé is enhanced by superb playing by the Lyon orchestra.
The disc has an additional piece, the early overture, 'Shéhérazade', which was Ravel's first orchestral work. It, too, evokes an ancient world, with 'Oriental' effects and although it is not top-drawer Ravel, it is worth hearing. Märkl and the Lyon orchestra play it superbly.
Definitely recommended for those who would like to hear the entire 'Daphnis et Chloé' ballet in a wonderful performance in sparkling sound.
JOICE AND REJOICE
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 01/24/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"All my life Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe ballet has consisted of a Second Suite with no known first counterpart. There seem to be a few famous musical compositions in a similar category. I wonder, for instance, how many people know the first piano sonata by Chopin, Borodin's first symphony, Rachmaninov's first piano concerto or the first violin concertos of Mendelssohn and Bartok. This disc provides the entire ballet of Daphnis and Chloe in a very fine performance, suitably well recorded as recently as 2008 and offered to us at a brilliant Naxos price. The famous representation of the dawn, one of the most wonderful pieces of instrumentation there has ever been, which starts off the Second Suite, actually turns up as track 13 out of 15, and we are not told which numbers went into the reclusive first suite. No matter, they are all here. Not only can we now rejoice at the second selection, we can joice at whatever went before it.
This set is complete in another way too. It contains the full score, not only the orchestra but the wordless choir and the wind machine. Ravel knew what he was doing, and it is no surprise to find that these ad lib elements add to the atmosphere. For me, Ravel is all about atmosphere. Elsewhere he evokes the children's world of animals and playthings in l'Enfant et les Sortileges, and Aloysius Bertrand's gothic fantasies in Gaspard de la Nuit, not to mention what he does in La Valse and Bolero. He tells us himself what he put into this score, and it is `the Greece of my dreams'. It is a pastorale, not in the manner of Theocritus, but based on a second century a.d. `novel' in Greek by one Longus. It is not hard to sense the general ambience of his nymphs, shepherds, goatherds, pirates, Pan (properly frightening) and the rest of them. However this sense is strikingly different from the languorous and erotic atmosphere of Debussy's Prelude a l'Apres midi d'un Faune, which was nearly contemporary. Ravel is languid much of the time, although of course also startlingly powerful at intervals in that effortless-seeming way he had. Languorous he is not, and Jun Maerkl can tell the difference quite clearly. Cool pastoral, one might say.
For me, this performance works. Any performance of Ravel has to have a sense of magic about it, and I get enough of that here. I don't suppose it represents any theoretical ideal, but it comes close enough; and of course it is the full monty and not just a selection at last. Moreover, there is something else as well, the Sheherazade overture, Ravel's first orchestral composition. The legend of Sheherazade obviously fascinated him, because he returned to it later in a very interesting suite of three songs with orchestra, under the same collective title. Once again it is very well performed, and it seems a rather successful piece of work to me, although Ravel was unwise enough to comment on its sonata form structure, which provoked some tedious pedantry from Lalo, quoted in the liner.
The liner essay itself is quite modest in scope, and the better for that. There is a bit about the composer, and a bit more about Fokine, Diagilev and Nijinsky, all the more entertaining for its comparative reticence. The antics of this ribald trio had already caused a public scandal, and it was not to be long before they were at it again with the Rite of Spring, the rumpus at whose premiere had actually more to do with the choreography than the music, whatever some sources try to tell us. Apart from that it contains a few remarks about Sheherazade, but importantly it devotes the bulk of its space to a detailed account of the action of the ballet, which was exactly what I for one was looking for. Also in the usual Naxos way there are resumes of the performers, and I welcome that as well as these artists were not previously known to me.
What a bargain too. I do not intend to stop saying this about Naxos issues."