RAVEL: Daphnis et Chloe – Rotterdam Philharmonic Orch. /Yannick Nezet-Seguin – BIS

RAVEL: Daphnis et Chloe – Rotterdam Philharmonic Orch. /Yannick Nezet-Seguin – BIS multichannel SACD 1850, 63:27 (4/14/15) [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

Does the world need yet another recording of Ravel’s popular Daphnis and Chloe ballet suite? Perhaps not, but an excellent argument can be made for this recent SACD from BIS.

Conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin breathes some fresh life into this energetic performance of the Ravel in a well-done recording.

Ravel described the work as a ‘choreographic symphony’ concerning the love between the goatherd Daphnis and the shepherdess Chloe. Ravel started the work in 1909 and premiered it in 1912. The work is Ravel’s longest, and lasts almost an hour in performance. Ravel made two suites from the ballet, but this disc features the complete work.

The performance is ethereal in places, as it should be, and the driving energy of the orchestra makes the piece a very satisfying experience. Nezet-Seguin is a busy conductor these days, serving as Music Director of both the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic, while also serving as the principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic. He seems comfortable with the romantic classics and more contemporary works, and I expect his star will continue to rise.

The recording has a wide soundstage, with the microphones at an agreeable distance from the orchestra. The surrounds are largely muted, providing hall ambiance. This is a fine recording, and the engineering never intrudes on the music, but rather, supports it as it should.

The disc also contains Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess. Originally a piece for piano, Ravel orchestrated it in 1910. It’s mainly a short filler for this disc, but it sounds fine and is also well played. With all the recordings of this work, both on standard CD and SACD, there are a lot of choices, but BIS gives us a worthy high resolution disc and an energized flawless performance. Recommended!

—Mel Martin

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