Even though the music of Maurice Ravel's 1912 ballet Daphnis et Chloé is most often heard in the two suites he arranged a year later, the whole work deserves listeners' rapt attention because it is one of his greatest scores and is especially rewarding when heard in its complete form. Called a symphonie choréographique by Ravel, though composed in scenes along the lines of a Classical ballet, the three parts of the piece are unified by common motives and by the use of a rich orchestral palette, which includes a wordless chorus. This 1979 live recording by Bernard Haitink, the John Alldis Choir, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra runs to just under an hour, though its fascinating sonorities, gently wafting rhythmic movement, and impressionistic harmonies make it seem dreamlike and timeless. The performance is indeed atmospheric and the orchestra's textures are diaphanous, so listeners can get lost in the wonderful orchestration and be distracted only slightly by the occasional audience noises, which are rather faint in the background. The analog stereo recording is quite warm and rich, and much of its vividness remains in the digital remastering.
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé Review
by Blair Sanderson