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Ravel’s masterpiece, Daphnis et Chloé, was composed for the Ballets Russes and premièred in 1912.
Ravel described his sumptuous score, for large orchestra, wind machine and wordless chorus, as “a choreographic symphony in three parts … a vast musical fresco … faithful to the Greece of my dreams”.
His earliest orchestral work, the “fairy overture” Shéhérazade is all that remains of a planned opera based on The Thousand and One Nights. Ravel conducted the première in 1899, although the score remained unpublished until 1975.
Maurice Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe
Part I: Introduction
Part I: Danse religieuse
Part I: Les jeunes filles attirent Daphnis - Danse generale
Part I: Daphnis s'approche tendrement de Chloe
Part I: Danse grotesque de Dorcon
Part I: Danse legere et gracieuse de Daphnis
Part I: Danse de Lyceion
Part I: Une lumiere irreelle enveloppe le paysage
Part I: Danse lente et mysterieuse
Part I: Derriere la scene, on entend des voix
Part II: Anime et tres rude
Part II: Danse suppliante de Chloe
Part III: Aucun bruit que le murmure des ruisselets amasses par la rosee qui coule des roches
Part III: Chloe figure la jeune nymphe errant das la prairie
Part III: Devant l'autel des Nymphes - Danse generale
Maurice Ravel: Sheherazade, Ouverture de feerie
Sheherazade, Ouverture de feerie
“This Naxos disc, in dazzling sound, demonstrates that under its latest music director, Jun Märkl, the Lyon National Orchestra's standards remains high. This is one of the most spectacular of showpieces among ballet scores, and the Lyon orchestra gives a powerful and subtle performance, with the wind and brass soloists outstanding. The Leipzig Radio Choir, which comes from where Märkl was last in charge, adds to the glow of the performance, which can match almost any version in the catalogue. Naxos has again demonstrated its rare ability to produce excellent discs at bargain price. The shimmering sounds of the Daybreak movement are perfectly caught, with the wind nicely defined, and the final Danse générale rounds the performance off thrillingly. To add to the attractions a substantial fill-up is offered. The Ouverture Shéhérazade is a student work but already demonstrates Ravel's gift for creating magical orchestral textures, very reminiscent of Debussy but not entirely derivative with its climactic fanfares leading to a hushed close. It provides a delightful makeweight to an outstanding disc.”
“This is one of the most spectacular of showpieces among ballet scores, and the Lyon orchestra gives a powerful and subtle performance, with the wind and brass soloists outstanding. The Leipzig Radio Choir… adds to the glow of the performance, which can match almost any version in the catalogue. Naxos has again demonstrated its rare ability to produce excellent discs at bargain price.”
14th August 2009
(On Daphnis et Chloé)
“It's a thoughtful, low-key performance: Märkl isn't so much interested in extremes as in a mood of sustained sensuousness, in which the lovers' naive sexuality and their rejection of older, more experienced partners makes perfect sense. It's played with the Lyon orchestra's trademark refinement- something they clearly haven't lost since Märkl became music director in 2005.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.