Ernest Ansermet's Ravel recordings were and still are, highly prized for their effective momentum and crystal clear sound picture. Most feature late 50's early 60's sessions from the famous Victoria Hall, Geneva and some works such as 'Boléro' and the serene 'Ma mère l'Oye' are hard-pressed to be bettered. Enjoyment can also be found in the Swiss conductor's ethereal pacing in the beautiful 'Daphnis et Chloé' which takes up most of the second disc. Here is a reading that benefits greatly from the reedy woodwinds and lovingly recorded strings especially in the quiet passages.
I still retain my preference for Pierre Monteaux's legendary London Symphony version (also on Decca) but Ansermet is still in the top three, alongside Munch. The other works benefit from understanding and a lifetime's knowledge of the music, 'La Valse' is particularly impressive and swift at 13 minutes long. Decca have remastered the tapes beautifully and the package is indeed quite an excellent introduction to the Ravel newcomer.
Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech