[ Harmonia Mundi / CD ]
Release Date: Friday 1 May 2020
Toscanini regarded this orchestration of Pictures at an Exhibition as a genuine treatise on instrumentation, on a par with that of Berlioz: scored for the same instrumental forces as La Valse, Ravel's version quickly established itself ahead of all the many competing orchestrations of Mussorgsky's piano suite.
In François-Xavier Roth's view, La Valse and the Pictures together represent the peak of the composer's output for the symphony orchestra of his time - that is to say, as the musicians of Les Siècles reconstruct it for us today. What a joy to get back to the original colours of this music.
"La valse is very nearly worth the price of the disc by itself...the poème chorégraphique steals the show in a dazzling performance of outstanding virtuosity...As Pictures go, this is a very enjoyable tour around the gallery … but it's that La valse which keeps haunting me (in the best possible way)" Gramophone
"His performance [of La Valse] is less nihilistic than some readings, it's lighter, wonderfully athletic and full of brilliantly lit detail, though still mustering a real punch in the cataclysm of the final pages. It also makes a real showcase for Les Siècles' gorgeous early 20th-century French woodwind sound and plush strings...The result is like viewing a restored old master; every detail glows, exactly as Ravel would have imagined it." 5 Stars, The Guardian