Various Artists

Ravel: Musique de chambre

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Since all the chamber music of Ravel could be fit on about a disc and a half, this two-disc set, entitled Ravel Musique de Chambre, not only has all of Ravel's chamber music -- the two sonatas for violin and piano and for violin and cello, the piano trio, the string quartet, and the Introduction and Allegro for harp, winds, and string quartet -- it also includes pieces that are not strictly chamber music -- two sets of songs, two transcriptions, and for some reason, the four-hand piano version of Ma mere l'oye. All of this is fine since all the performances are fine. Indeed, better than fine, all the performances are French. This means that the performances are supple, soulful, and sensitive but ever so slightly ironic. This means the performances are sweet but pungent, sensual but reserved, superbly played but every once in a while slightly out of tune. While one might sometimes wish that the string players' intonation was truer, that the singers' voices were clearer, or that the wind players were rounder, one could not wish for performances that believe more deeply in the worth of the music. And, for that, listeners must all be grateful. EMI's stereo recordings from the early '60s to the early '70s are a bit distant, but still warm and deep.

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