Yan Pascal Tortelier

Maurice Ravel: Orchestral Music

(CD - Chandos #9206)

Review by

This 1993 Chandos box set of Maurice Ravel's orchestral works is a handsome collection from beginning to end, with neither a dull piece nor an inept performance on its four discs. Yan Pascal Tortelier and the Ulster Orchestra are skillful interpreters of Ravel's exquisite scores, and they are as technically polished and radiant in their timbres as they are emotionally committed and moving in their expression. The best-known works are here, of course, such as the seductive Boléro, the spectacular Daphnis et Chloé, and the tender Pavane pour une infante défunte, but they sound fresh in these interpretations and command the attention of even the most jaded listener. Less popular works share in the musicians' largesse, and Don Quichotte à Dulcinée and the "Trois Poèmes" from Shéhérazade are wonderfully played and sung, respectively by baritone Stephen Roberts and mezzo soprano Linda Finnie. One work that may raise a purist's eyebrow, and that shows a touch of vanity on Tortelier's part, is his lush arrangement of Ravel's Trio in A minor, an interesting, idiomatic treatment of the chamber work, but not exactly necessary in this generous set. An informative booklet with lyrics is included in the package, and Chandos provides consistently superb sound, even though the recordings were made over four years in different venues.