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With a number of voyages into overt space music themes under his belt (The Planets, Kosmos), Isao Tomita returned to French impressionism with an all-Ravel album -- which was easy to call after the enormous early success he had with Debussy. Rather than picking any old Ravel piece to work on, Tomita's choices of material are mostly quite shrewd, geared toward his strengths. The second suite from Daphnis et ChloƩ seems absolutely made-to-order for the Tomita treatment, for it unfolds in long, sustained crescendos and diminuendos where there is no need to erase any bar lines. All Tomita has to do is fill in the electronic colors -- which he does with his customary bag of gorgeous, flowing, pitch-bending tricks, producing one of his most faithful transcriptions without giving up his personal stamp. "Pavanne for a Dead Princess" works as well as his Debussy canvases, save for a jarring interpolation of sitar. Within the "Mother Goose" suite, the "Laideronette" is fascinating for the imitation-Balinese gamelan timbres that Tomita comes up with (after all, it was Ravel's imitation of Asian music anyway), while "Beauty and the Beast" is a very freely drawn, at one point menacing, interpretation. The notorious "Bolero" -- coming out on the heels of a hit movie, 10, that gave the mass public the idea that Ravel's musical stunt is a vehicle for lovemaking -- is trimmed by almost 50 percent. This is just as well because Tomita doesn't have much to say with it, apart from one startling, pitch-bending passage.

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