Ravel Enfant et les Sortilèges

Author: 
Lionel Salter

Ravel Enfant et les Sortilèges – Lorin Maazel

  • (L')Enfant et les sortilèges, 'Bewitched Child'

My much respected late colleague Philip Hope-Wallace, who knew a thing or two about French opera, described this, when it was first issued, as ''a superlative piece of recording''; and I cannot do better than echo his words. This is, quite simply, one of the classics of the catalogue, and easily the best performance available of this everenchanting work (which nevertheless emerged somewhat prosaically in the Previn performance). Here everything is just right. One couldn't ask for more vivid orchestral sound, better balance (including those double-bass harmonics at bar 12 which are all but lost in the Previn/EMI and Jordan/Erato versions) or more marvellously clear words from everyone. FranSoise Ogeas is a most convincing petulant brat finally overcome with remorse, Jeanine Collard as his mother changes her tone in a moment from gentle enquiry to disappointment to crossness to hurt reproof and as the teacup is hilariously Chinese; Camille Maurane and Michel Senechal are nimbletongued as, respectively, the grandfather clock and Mr Arithmetic (the latter vivaciously seconded by the children's choir), Sylvaine Gilma is brilliant in the virtuoso parts of the fire and the nightingale and tender as the princess... and so on; need I continue—except to say that this recording offers far more index points than either of the later versions? Now, an open (and serious) question to connoisseurs; has there ever been a more wonderfully inventive orchestral score than this?'

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