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  Warner Music (Japan) -
  Ravel: Works for Orchestra Vol. 2 - Cluytens
  Ravel: Bolero, Rapsodie Espagnole, La Valse

Paris Conservatory Orchestra
André Cluytens (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Recorded: November 1961
  Formerly TOGE-12092

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Submitted by val242
Related titles: 4

Reviews: 1

Review by mwgfrg February 29, 2012 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This SACD is one of four discs comprising Cluytens' recording of the complete orchestral music of Ravel from the 1960s. Since all four have now been released in SACD by Japanese EMI, this comment is addressed to all four, which together comprise one of the ultimate treasures of the classical catalog.

Ravel stated that Cluytens conducted his music better than any other conductor, which caused many Frenchman to bristle because Cluytens was (Sacre Bleu!) Belgian. Whether or not that judgment is true--and based on these recordings it would be hard to argue otherwise--it can probably be safely stated that this might be the last time on record (and perhaps the last time, period) that Ravel's music was presented in excellent sound in precisely the way he heard it in his mind when he composed. In the '60s there were constant carping criticisms that the leading French orchestras, the Orchestra of the Paris Conservatoire and L'Orchestra National de la Radiodiffusion Francaise, as I believe it was called, sounded poor, thin and uncomfortable when conducting Wagner and the German classics. As I recall the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra was reconstituted in the late '60s as L'Orchestre de Paris, and the other in the '70s as the Orchestre National de France [I may not have the names exactly right], and soon thereafter the criticism of their aptitude for the German/Austrian classics died out. What very few people seemed to notice was that at about the same time so did their special French sound in Ravel and Debussy. On any given recording from the late '70s on, either of the French orchestras could be mistaken for the London Symphony (not intended as a criticism). But listen to the sound of the brass, woodwinds and upper strings on these recordings, and see if you don't hear Ravel in an entirely different way. Even Bolero, which you swore you would never listen to again, emerges in a substantially new light. Bet you actually enjoy it, and return to it again soon after hearing this one!

Then there is the sound. The EMI original LP set was a marvel in balancing a convincing hall image with utter, unforced clarity, and the '90s audiophile issue was, if anything, even finer. Both now sell for a pretty penny, and are worth every cent. These SACDs are miles ahead of the several RBCD versions I have tried in the past, all of which I have discarded (although the recent Japanese EMI HQCDs were not bad). There is not quite the top to bottom clarity of the reproduction of the orchestra, or the extraordinary delineation of the hall acoustic, of either the original or the audiophile LPs, but the SACDs come pretty close.

These recordings do not show up regularly, and never in transfers like these. These are the very most valuable of the EMI SACDs. Buy them before they disappear, and see if you don't save on shelf space by getting rid of most of your Ravel recordings afterwards.

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Works: 3  

Maurice Ravel - Boléro, M. 81
Maurice Ravel - La valse, M. 72
Maurice Ravel - Rapsodie espagnole, M. 54