One of the greatest orchestrators of the 20th century was Maurice Ravel, and his subtle handling of evocative tone colors and atmospheric orchestral textures widely influenced composers of concert and film music. But most modern performances of Ravel's music don't give an accurate impression of the sounds he heard, and it is somewhat surprising to find that French instruments of the early 20th century, handmade by independent craftsmen and small-scale manufacturers, had more distinctive timbres than the mass-produced instruments used in performances today. Most noticeable are the piquant and pungent colors of the woodwinds, and Ravel's delicate scoring for them in Ma mère l'oye presents their sonorities to best advantage. His orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition also reveals these unique qualities in his transparent scoring, as well as the temperamental sounds of brass instruments, which had more varied characteristics than their modern equivalents. This fascinating album by Anima Eterna Brugge, conducted by Jos van Immerseel, demonstrates the great value of playing Ravel on authentic period instruments, and shows that he worked with a sonic palette that is far more nuanced and colorful than is usually heard. Listeners who enjoy investigations into historical practices should defintely hear this disc, and they will appreciate the extraordinary depth and detail in the reproduction. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Ma Mère L'Oye (Cinq Pièces Enfantines Suite)|
|Pictures at an Exhibition|