Jean Martinon

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé; Boléro; La Valse; Ma Mère l'Oye; Debussy: Jeux; L'Après; Midi d'Un Faune

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For what it is, it doesn't get any better than this disc of ballets by Ravel and Debussy recorded for EMI in 1974 by Orchestre de Paris under Jean Martinon. Some listeners may object to the French performer's approach, for these are not the clean-cut Debussy and razor-sharp Ravel favored in the late '80s and early '90s, but the lushly sonorous and lustily sensuous Ravel and Debussy of the late '60s and early '70s. Martinon, a skillful and seasoned conductor, elicits richly opulent playing from the Parisian orchestra. Here, one hears less the solos, fine and characterful as they are in Daphnis et Chloé's pantomimes, than the blend, as in the kaleidoscopic colors of Boléro or the subtly shifting balances of Jeux. But one mostly hears the deep, plush sound of the French musicians having their way with music they love, and their performance of Daphnis' Bacchanale is as thrilling as the climax of L'Après-midi d'un faune is ravishing. Recorded in full-spectrum stereo, this set should certainly be heard by anyone who enjoys the music.

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