MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Gloria for soprano, chorus and orchestra, FP 177 [23:51]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Daphnis et Chloé - symphonie choréographique [53:18]
Jessica Rivera (soprano)
Chicago Symphony Chorus and Orchestra/Bernard Haitink
rec. 8-10 November, 2007, Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, Chicago, USA
CSO RESOUND CSOR901906 [77:09]
Experience Classicsonline

This is a wonderful new performance of Daphnis et Chloé, Maurice Ravel’s greatest orchestral achievement. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was in top form when these live performances were committed to disc, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus was equally outstanding. Bernard Haitink conducts with great skill, though not always with magic. The CD’s volume level is surprisingly low - I had to turn the volume up to twice my usual level - but, once a satisfactory volume is found, the sonics are magnificent. If this is all you need to hear before making your investment, buy with confidence.

I have more to say, of course. Begin at the opening of Daphnis: a marvelous reading of these opening pages, with perfectly-judged flute and horn solos. Most striking, however, is the contribution of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. They will return later, in the a capella introduction of the ballet’s second part, with an even bigger part and even more stunning results. These singers obtain more mystery and beauty from a series of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ than most can from any number of lines of text. Credit must be given to the outstanding chorus master, Duain Wolfe, who has been with the Chicago Symphony since 1994, and to the individuals making up the Chicago Symphony Chorus, who are each listed in the booklet.

If the opening scene is marvelous and the ensuing dance seductive, the last few cues in the first part of the ballet tend to drag a little. This is not necessarily the result of slow tempi-indeed, Haitink often takes a faster pace than most of my references-but for whatever reason a sort of dead spot arises here. The loss of interest may, however, be only be obvious to listeners with considerable prior experience with the work: I dare say that, after hearing Pierre Boulez’ spectacular account with the Berlin Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammophon, all other recordings have been spoiled for me. Over the rest of the ballet, Bernard Haitink conducts with a freedom and, well, Frenchness that belies his stolid Germanic reputation.

After the chorus returns to save the day in Part II’s three-minute opening cue, Haitink leads a slowly-paced battle scene which despite (or perhaps because of) its tempo achieves a very welcome suspense. I must also note that this take yields a great wealth of orchestral detail; I heard much here that I had not before.

The legendary sunrise takes flight admirably, if not unforgettably, and the flute solo afterward is dispatched with perfection by Mathieu Dufour. The final dance is a madcap conclusion, and the Chicago Symphony and Haitink really ‘let it all hang out.’ It is a most satisfactory finale to a most satisfactory performance.

If the above summary does not perhaps do this playing justice, it is because I have neglected to mention the warm and crystal-clear sound. With many thanks to the engineers, we are able to hear everything going on in the orchestra at all times, and I learned of an abundance of details which were quite new to me. Daphnis seems to be a recording technician’s showpiece-the Boulez recording on DG offers some of the most awe-inspiring sound I have ever heard-and this CD is no exception, though not necessarily the exemplar (that’s still Boulez). Happily the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is so fine that its world-class playing makes even the aforementioned ‘dead spot’ enjoyable.

This is probably the best Daphnis in years: it features better playing and sharper focus than the Bordeaux/Petitgirard outing on Naxos, it is more warmly recorded and more memorable than the Gielen reissues on Hänssler and (in the United States) Arte Nova, and it is infinitely more interesting than the brisk, emotionless take by Jun Märkl and the Orchestre National de Lyon, which also featured downright unpleasant choral work.

The unusual but rather inspired coupling is Francis Poulenc’s marvelous Gloria. New listeners will love this jocular music, by turns peppy and probing, and some may recognize, in some of the brass writing, the influence of Janáček. An old Leonard Bernstein album couples Poulenc’s Gloria with Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, and frankly the idea is brilliant.

Once again we get to hear the very fine Chicago Symphony Chorus in absolutely top form, with the addition of soprano Jessica Rivera, a young American singer who specializes in contemporary music. Rivera, a lyric soprano with a bright, clear, simply beautiful tone, sings her solo in the third part so well that I found myself eagerly hunting down discographies online. (Some orchestra needs to hurry up and get her in the studio for a Verdi Requiem, and perhaps a turn as Musetta.) The Chicago Symphony Chorus and Orchestra combine to really ‘sell’ the rest of this lovably eccentric work, which really does deserve a firmer place in the repertoire.  

There are still reference versions of Daphnis et Chloé which will go untouched by this recording - but even if you have Boulez in Berlin, Dutoit in Montreal or Monteux in London, this new CD from Chicago should be a welcome supplement to your collection. The Poulenc coupling is unique and utterly wonderful, the playing and singing is marvelous, and the booklet is lavishly designed (if not unusually informative). CSO Resound has scored a decisive hit releasing these live recordings for our home enjoyment, and with releases like this it helps to vindicate the growing trend of orchestras operating their own record labels. With productions of this calibre, who needs major labels?

Brian Reinhart









Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.