Ravel: L'enfant et les sortileges / Shéhérazade

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MAURICE RAVEL
Ravel: L'enfant et les sortileges / Shéhérazade
Isabel Leonard, Yvonne Naef, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, Susan Graham / Saito Kinen Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa

[ Decca / CD ]

Release Date: Tuesday 15 December 2015

One of the world's legendary conductors, Seiji Ozawa celebrates his 80th birthday in September 2015. To celebrate, this disc of all-new Ravel recordings features one of the composers he has been most closely associated with over his long career.

As a student of Charles Munch and Pierre Monteux, Seiji Ozawa studied with two of the 20th century's greatest exponents of Ravel. In the 1970s he recorded a benchmark set of the complete orchestral works for DG with the Boston Symphony during his record-breaking 29 year tenure with the orchestra.

These new recordings derive from the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan with world-class soloists - leading American mezzos Isabel Leonard in L'enfant et les sortilèges and Susan Graham in Shéhérazade - and a hand-picked orchestra of the world's finest players from Berlin, Vienna, Boston, Cleveland, New York and Philadelphia.

The recording of L'enfant et les sortilèges marked Seiji Ozawa's first full return to conducting after recovering from surgery for life-threatening cancer in 2013. One of the performances was given in the presence of the Emperor and Empress of Japan who had journeyed to the city of Matsumoto especially for the occasion.

"Susan Graham has absolutely the right voice for this music and knows it well. Her French is fine and I'm delighted she respects Ravel's carefully notated vocal slides." (BBC Music)

"Isabel Leonard makes a believable Child, from the tantrums at the start to the pity, sympathy and loneliness of the ending...A special bouquet to Marie Lenormand and Elliot Madore as the cats, whose mewing is particularly accurate...Susan Graham, like Ozawa, is at home in the French repertoire...and she is magically sensuous in Shéhérazade." (Gramophone)

"Yvonne Naef's Maman and Leonard's petulant Child are among the successes here, but Ozawa's conducting is heavy-handed and brash. He calms down for Graham's Shéhérazade, even more ravishing than her 2005 BBCSO version." (Sunday Times)

"it's a performance of remarkable assurance, beautifully recorded with scarcely any extraneous stage noise, and every texture and instrumental detail perfectly placed and meticulously realised by the fabulous hand-picked Saito Kinen Orchestra...Isabel Leonard is the Child, never coyly childish, and the multifarious doublings among the rest of the cast...are all kept just the right side of exaggerated caricature." (The Guardian)

Tracks:

L'enfant et les sortilèges
Shéhérazade
(with Susan Graham, mezzo)
Alborada del gracioso (orchestral version)
L'enfant et les sortilèges: Duo miaulé (Cat Duet)