One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

absolutely thrilling

immediacy and spontaneity

Schumann Lieder

24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs

‘Box of Delights.’

J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue

a most welcome issue

I enjoyed it tremendously

the finest traditions of the house

music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message

ground-breaking, winning release

screams quality

Surprise of the month

English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this from
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Orchestral Works – Volume 2

Valses nobles et sentimentales (1911) [15:25]
Gaspard de la nuit (1908, orch. Marius Constant, 1990) [22:15]
Le tombeau de Couperin (1914-17) [16:12]
La valse (1920) [12:47]
Orchestre National de Lyon/Leonard Slatkin
rec. September 2011 (Valses), November 2012, Auditorium de Lyon
NAXOS 8.572888 [66:39]

The good news: Leonard Slatkin comes to life in a characterful reading of Le tombeau de Couperin. The opening Prélude sounds a bit runny - the rhythmic foundation could be firmer - but the interplay of colours is pleasing. Slatkin paces the two middle movements slightly faster than usual, underlining the dance element in the Forlane and the easy flow of the Menuet . The Rigaudon is splashy, if perhaps over-aggressive.
La Valse, too, is good. The 1960s and 1970s vogue for performances that underlined civilization's mad rush to destruction seems, mercifully, to have passed; conductors now feel free to play this score for purely musical values, as Slatkin does. He brings a sense of fantasy to the lightly scored passages, and infuses the rest with an appropriate dance-like lilt. The woodwind run around the ten-minute mark is slightly ahead of everyone else.
Valses nobles et sentimentales is a case of swings and roundabouts. The rhythmic chords at the start are muffled and soggy. The piquant third (Modéré) and fourth (Assez animé) movements flow gracefully, but the fifth (Presque lent), though attentively moulded, loses momentum. The Moins vif movement, anticipating the buoyant rhythmic patterns of La valse, achieves some uplift; but then the Epilogue, less an actual waltz than a thoughtful reflection on the form, lies there inert.
Marius Constant's transcription of Gaspard de la nuit is intelligently conceived - such liquid piano writing doesn't transfer readily to the orchestra - even if Constant seems to have had Debussy’s La mer, rather than Ravel, in his ear. Here we get the Slatkin familiar from his earlier series of RCA recordings, seemingly unattuned to subtleties of orchestral colour and texture. The lightly scored opening of Ondine conveys no sense of anticipation; the high-lying passages don't shimmer; the climaxes don't surge. In Le gibet, the woodwinds at the start draw the ear, but successive episodes become increasingly static. The chattering bits in Scarbo are effective, but the fuller passages that follow sound generalized, the tuttis portentous. In short, we have the sounds without the music.
The Gaspard transcription awaits a more fully realized performance. Meanwhile, for durable accounts of the other works, you could do worse than Boulez’s Sony versions, from Cleveland (La valse) and New York, with Martinon (EMI), Monteux (Philips), and Masur (Warner Apex) as possible supplements for La valse.

Stephen Francis Vasta
Stephen Francis Vasta is a New York-based conductor, coach, and journalist.

Previous review: Paul Corfield Godfrey