Magazine article Gramophone

Ravel

Magazine article Gramophone

Ravel

Article excerpt

Ravel

Daphnis et Chloe (a). Une barque sur l'ocean. Pavane pour une infante defunte

(a) WDR Radio Choir, Cologne; Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra / Gustavo Gimeno

Pentatone (F) [SACD] PTC5186 652 (73' * DDD/DSD)

It's unfortunate, perhaps, that Gustavo Gimeno's new Pentatone recording of Daphnis et Chloe should appear so soon after Francois-Xavier Roth's version with Les Siecles for Harmonia Mundi, much admired in these pages and elsewhere when it was released earlier this year. Using conventional rather than period instruments, Gimeno's performance does, indeed, have much to recommend it. It's a coolly sensual account, for the most part beautifully played by his Luxembourg orchestra. There's a laid-back, languorous feel to much of it. Gimeno lingers over the lovers' rapt kiss after the dancing contest, and the Pan-Syrinx Pantomime, the flute solo done with wonderful poise, is all the more exquisite for being taken slowly. String textures are warm yet fastidiously teased out without quite equalling Roth's transparency. Lyceion's clarinets are sinewy and provocative, spelling out real danger. Gimeno has a fine chorus in Cologne's WDR Radio Choir, hushed and mysterious-sounding, very different from Roth's brighter, more open-vowelled Ensemble Aedes.

Heady though it is, however, the sensuousness sometimes comes at the price of the score's menace and elan. Dorcon's 'Danse grotesque' sounds a bit too polite and the Pirates' first incursion isn't as threatening as it might be. …

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