L'enfant et les sortilèges

L'enfant et les sortilèges

Shéhérazade ; Alborada del gracioso

Music CD - 2015 | French
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Publisher: London, England : Decca, [2015]
Copyright Date: ℗2014,, ©2015
Branch Call Number: OPERA RAVEL CD 1DISC
Characteristics: 1 audio disc (69:09) : CD audio, digital ; 4 3/4 in
digital,optical
audio file,CD audio

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scribby
Jan 03, 2020

"The Child and the Magic Spells", for the listener, is comical; for the child in the story, it's a nightmare -- until he learns his lesson. Ravel's mastery of harmony and orchestration comes through, perhaps more than his command of melody: all of the characters have their own music and instrumentation. In fact, the orchestration is so spectacular that the listener hears instruments that aren't there: for example, the opening oboe and flute sound exactly like the Chinese pipes (the sheng), though that instrument is not in the orchestra. The comical singing is overblown at times (the clock singing "ding ding ding ding ding" gets grating), but these touches of extravagance help to tell the tale convincingly. Watch out for the cats.
"Shéhérazade" is another fairy tale, though it's a far calmer affair. We're treated to languid impressionist harmonies and beautiful melodic lines that seem to float to their destination rather than get there by conventional melodic development. Ms. Graham's performance of these is elegant and refined, in contrast to the phantasmagorical effects of the singing in "L'enfant". There's also a phantom gamelan (another instrument that isn't there!) somewhere in the first movement.
Lastly, "Alborada del gracioso" is instrumental and seems tacked on at the end of this CD to fill up time, though it's a good reading and performance of this orchestral showpiece.

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