Following their remarkable recordings of Igor Stravinsky's great ballets L'Oiseau de feu, Petrouchka, and Le Sacre du printemps, which were released on the Musicales Actes Sud label, François-Xavier Roth and the period instruments ensemble Les Siècles deliver a stunning first recording for Harmonia Mundi of Maurice Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé that features authentic instruments from the time of the work's premiere. The complete one-act ballet, which was first performed on June 8, 1912 at the Théatre du Châtelet in Paris, is regarded as a pinnacle of French Impressionism, and, as a tour de force of orchestration, its brilliant tone colors and innovative effects deserve to be heard on the instruments that Ravel had in mind. Even as late as 1912, European instruments were still handmade, regionally produced, and quite distinctive in their sonorities, unlike the more homogenized timbres of modern manufactured instruments. As a result of its highly varied tonal palette, Les Siècles sound especially radiant, colorful, and more subtly shaded than many other conventional orchestras. Furthermore, in his effort to present Daphnis et Chloé as Ravel intended it to be heard, Roth has meticulously corrected errors that crept into the score and parts, and clarified passages that were ambiguous in Ravel's manuscript. Beyond the wonderful showcase this recording provides for Les Siècles' large collection of historic instruments and the restoration of many details, Roth and his musicians present a warm and vibrant performance that doesn't merely compel attentive listening but seduces with its lushness and richness. This recording is recommended to all music lovers as one of the finest releases of 2017.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Daphnis et Chloé|