[ Harmonia Mundi / CD ]
Release Date: Thursday 20 April 2017
'Daphnis and Chloé' is conceived as a ballet in one act and three parts, and tells the story of the love between the shepherd Daphnis and the shepherdess Chloé. A warlike tableau is framed by two pastoral ones: in the first, Daphnis and Chloé acknowledge their mutual love following a dance contest that provokes the jealousy of each of them in turn.
The interruption of a group of pirates, who abduct Chloé, puts an end to the rejoicing. The second tableau depicts the pirate camp; the captive girl is commanded to dance for her abductors. In the final tableau, Chloé is restored to Daphnis through a miracle of the god Pan, whom the nymphs have called on for help. After miming the tale of Pan and Syrinx, the young lovers let their joy burst forth in a General Dance of dazzling orgiastic virtuosity.
The orchestral forces are the largest Ravel ever employed and he adds a mixed chorus that sometimes hums and sometimes sings. As we have come to expect, François-Xavier Roth, in his début for harmonia mundi, has gone through Ravel's much-amended score with a fine-tooth comb and subsequently showed himself capable, in a 'historically informed' performance, of reproducing with the musicians of Les Siècles all the transparency and stylistic precision one could wish for in Ravel's masterpiece.
"Daphnis et Chloé is part of the large-scale project we embarked on with Les Siècles in 2009: the odyssey of the Ballets Russes. To celebrate the centenary of that incredible artistic adventure, we wanted to reconstruct the Parisian orchestra that premiered these works in order to restore their original colours...As with each work of the Ballets Russes that we've played so far, we noticed just how remarkably the instruments of Ravel's time, those French-built instruments typical of the early twentieth century, do justice to this music and make it meaningful!" FXR [from the booklet essay]
Gramophone Award WINNER 2018 - Orchestral
"There are just so many good things here, and it takes a little while to itemise them all. Here's one: Roth really emphasises the composer's suave, metropolitan side, particularly in the delicious Danse suppliante de Chloé. And another: has the final section of Part 2, the Danse lente, ever sounded so atmospheric, its canvas dotted with so much colour and detail? And it just gets better; the start of Part 3 - Lever du jour - dawns most beautifully. What glorious music-making, and all in top-notch sound to boot." MusicWeb April 2017
"With the strings playing on gut and wind instruments from the early years of the 20th century, the sound is fabulously transparent; every detail of the woodwind and brass articulation, so minutely specified by Ravel, is clear. Roth's approach may be too cool for some tastes - there's not much Dionysian abandon about it - but, as a guide to one of the most brilliant of all orchestral scores, it's hard to fault." The Guardian
"Les Siècles' French-built woodwind and brass instruments from the early 20th century...provide greater tonal sweetness, especially the Selmer trumpets, which don't dominate textures as much as the incisive LSO brass. Lean gut strings achieve feathery lightness... With fine choral contributions from the Ensemble Aedes, this new recording is highly recommended." Gramophone June 2017 Editor's Choice