Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé is “one of the most beautiful creations in the whole of French music” – thus Igor Stravinsky’s enthusiastic evaluation. The superb instrumental forces of Bonn’s Beethoven Orchestra have now dared to take on this gigantic score. Under its conductor, the general music director Stefan Blunier, the result offers impressive audio documentation of this rarely performed composition, displaying the marvelous features of this large-format work in all their glory and in the best 3-D recording technique.
Ravel’s instrumentation artistry is legendary; here one need only think of the famous “Bolero” with its revolutionary tonal mixtures or the orchestral version of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, unsurpassed both then and now. In Daphnis et Chloé Ravel reaches a high point in orchestral finesse, immediately captivating the listener with a pianissimo beginning: low double basses and timpani lay the foundation for a tender chord over which initially stopped horns spread an unreal atmosphere, and then the solo flute emerges from the orchestra. The motif of the horns is answered by a faraway choir in vocalises without a text. The iridescent color is perfect for a life story from ancient mythology.
Daphnis et Chloé was composed as a ballet. And so it is not surprising that dramatic theatrical effects very much play a role in it. The “Sunrise” (Track No. 9) has become famous. In the quietest pianissimo harp glissandi and wind arabesques arise from the quiet of the night; celestas join them, so do horns with mutes; birds awake, a shepherd plays a little flute in the scenery, another answers from afar – a grand cinematic picture for the imaginative listener.
This incomparable score of course has to be captured with the finest recording technique. The highresolution Super Audio CD guarantees unclouded listening pleasure, which is conveyed in a very special way in this 3-D 2+2+2 production: Blunier’s Bonn interpretation can be experienced in incredible detail – and at the same time opulently and sonorously.