DUKAS: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; RAVEL: Mother Goose (complete ballet); KOECHLIN: The Bandar Log – Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra/ Marc Albrecht – PentaTone multichannel SACD PTC 5186 336, 57:26 [Distr. by Naxos] *****:
A delightful program of programmatic French music that comes alive in PentaTone’s excellent hi-res 5.0 surround sound. Ravel’s Mother Goose is probably the major work here, in seven sections illustrating various familiar fairy tales. Like several of his works, it started out for solo piano, ending up in an orchestral ballet version. There are also two suites excerpting three or four of the scenes each. It exhibits thruout the composer’s very precise and well-thought-out tone-painting, creating a magical fairytale world. There are many good recordings of the music out there in both complete and suite form, but Albrecht has a fine way of playing up the colorful moods and atmosphere, and is so well recorded that I probably won’t bother anymore with the versions on standard CDs. I especially liked the next-to-last section, Empress of the Pagodas – absolutely delicious.
Of course Dukas’ familiar music for Mickey Mouse will be recalled by all. I had forgotten that this ten-minute scherzo was originally based on a ballade by Goethe. It’s perhaps the most programmatic work on the disc, and this performance may conjure up in your head all of Mickey’s screen adventures in Fantasia as the struggling young apprentice to the great wizard. Koechlin’s Les Bandar-log comes from his musical instrumental version of Kipling’s novel, The Jungle Book. The piece concerns hero Mowgli’s adventures with a bunch of monkeys, and various instruments in the orchestra are used by Koechlin as the voices of various animals – almost like Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. The whole thing has a quite happy, upbeat sound to it, bringing the concert to an enjoyable close.
— John Sunier