Gordan Nikolic / Carlo Rizzi / Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra

Maurice Ravel: La Valse; Ma Mère l'Oye; Tzigane; Boléro; Pavane

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This audiophile release from German label Tacet includes a great deal of blurbage touting the sound, which is indeed very impressive. There are even orchestra seating charts for each individual work. Auditioned on a good conventional stereo it's both transparent and brilliant. It's too bad, then, that the performances are solid but unspectacular. The best is probably the opening La valse, where the engineering really adds to the music even if the darker, apocalyptic undertones of the work seem lost on conductor Carlo Rizzi in his brisk reading. Boléro, where he is by contrast on the slow side, is one of the unsexier recordings of the piece among the many on the market, and even if you don't buy that explicit or implicit meaning of Boléro, the Pavane pour une infante défunte also feels perfunctory and disconnected from the meaning of the work. There's nothing to complain of in violinist Gordan Nikolic's lively Tzigane, and there is certainly a lot of clean instrumental work on display throughout, instrumental work that is usually obscured in the gray zone between performance and recording. But this is not a release that allows you to have it all.

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