Simon Rattle

Ravel: L'Enfant et les Sortilèges; Ma Mère l'Oye

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The conducting of Simon Rattle is the most compelling element in this recording of Ravel's L'Enfant et les Sortilèges with the Berlin Philharmonic. Rattle draws playing of great delicacy and nuance from the orchestra, and the many sections that are scored as lightly as chamber music are played with especially loving attention to shaping the elegant and expressive phrases; the beginning of the second part of the opera is especially magical. The international cast, though, which includes a number of internationally acclaimed stars, doesn't have the easy fluency with the material of a French cast, such as the ones assembled for Lorin Maazel's or Ernest Ansermet's versions, where the droll wit of Ravel's sly text setting really sparkles. Magdalena Kozená as the Child, and José van Dam and Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, each in an assortment of roles, are fully successful in putting the music across, but many of the remaining singers, fine as they are, come across as somewhat studied and miss the fun of Ravel's score. Rattle brings the same finesse and careful attention to detail to Ma Mère l'Oye as he does to the opera, and the Berlin Philharmonic responds with a spirited and graceful performance. EMI's sound is clean and present.

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