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CD Review

Maurice Ravel

  • Daphnis et Chloé Suite #2 *
  • Boléro
  • Pavane pour une Infante défunte
* The Ambrosian Singers
London Symphony Orchestra/Arpád Jóo
Arts Music 447243-2 40:03
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Even among collectors, the name of Arpád Jóo is not a famous one. But he made some fine recordings, many of which can be found on Arts Music. This is an excellent one. Jóo inspires the sometimes pedestrian London Symphony Orchestra to play with a combination of virtuosity and panache. I was bored by André Previn's Ravel with the same orchestra on EMI Seraphim, and find this partnership much more colorful and successful.

Previn's Boléro was one of the slowest on disc, and though it was aptly sensual in places, it also had a tendency to drag. Jóo chooses much swifter tempos, and outstanding solo contributions from the London ranks make this warhorse sound exciting again. I confess, there are very few ways to compel me to listen to the work in full, but both the playing and sound are very good. As for the Pavane pour une Infante défunte, it also sounds quite lovely. Jóo again chooses an ideal tempo that allows the London Symphony to sing without ever languishing or losing focus.

However, it's the Suite from Daphnis et Chloé that makes this disc special. Drenched in color, and featuring enthusiastic choral contributions from The Ambrosian Singers, Jóo conducts with a flair that is so often missing from English orchestral playing. At only 40 minutes, this disc is the very model of an early-80's program, and also suffers from a few sonic problems due to being very early digital. But if the music appeals, there's really not a better way to hear this orchestra play Ravel.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman