One of the most grown-up review sites around

53,992 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                     Editor in Chief: John Quinn              

Some items
to consider

Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Recordings of the Month


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Schubert Symphony 9


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE

Enescu Ravel Britten

Debussy Images etc.

53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)




Support us financially by purchasing this from

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1837)
Daphnis et Chloé [56:50]
Une barque sur l'océan [8:36]
Pavane pour une infante défunte [7:09]
WDR Rundfunkchor Köln
Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg/Gustavo Gimeno
rec. Philharmonie Luxembourg, 2017
Reviewed in surround
PENTATONE SACD PTC5186652 [72:58]

Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé was completed in 1912, not without considerable problems for the composer as well as the choreographer and, indeed, the impresario Sergei Diaghilev. The plot was triggered by Longus’ 2nd Century A.D. ‘novel’ The Pastorals or the Loves of Daphnis and Chloe which describes the births, the childhood and the youth of the two lovers during which their mutual friendship turns to love and eventually, in the very last paragraph of the story,to their becoming actual lovers. The twists and turns of this long tale could not have been made into a dance-drama except by severe pruning and indeed equally major changes in the plot. What Ravel created in his final scenario was a short series of events mostly from the original, but with all the eroticism heavily toned-down. This last is perhaps as well because there was enough scandal as a result of Nijinsky’s interpretation of Debussy’s Prélude à l'après-midi d'une faune premiered just before Daphnis. Possibly because scandal was avoided, Ravel’s masterpiece was upstaged by Debussy’s, just as in the following year Debussy's Jeux was, as Roger Nichols puts it, “incinerated in the glow of Le Sacre”. Whatever the initial reaction, the work has come to be recognised as one of Ravel’s greatest. Those of us who learned the work backwards by starting with Part 3 minus the chorus, called the 2nd Suite, will have discovered by familiarity alone that the earlier two sections are strongly thematically linked to the third, proving that Ravel’s own description of Daphnis as a symphonie chorégraphique was very appropriate. Just as Debussy’s La Mer is perhaps the greatest French symphony, Daphnis et Chloé runs it a close second. We are now used to hearing the entire work and on repeated hearing, as tends to happen when reviewing, it simply gains in stature.

The question for this Pentatone issue is, does it rise to the occasion? I think it does. The Luxembourg orchestra sounds very good and their fine Philharmonie adds satisfying space and lustre to their sound. (Would that London had one such hall). The two fillers Une barque sur l'océan and the famous Pavane are equally beautifully played. I mentioned above the repeated hearings and it is these that raise doubts. I heard the Pentatone twice but also compared it with several hi-res alternatives, both stereo and surround. These were: Jean Martinon and the Orchestre de Paris on an eccentrically packaged DVD Audio issue from EMI; the famous old Boston recording under Charles Munch on Living Stereo SACD; Pierre Monteux and the LSO, a Decca original reissued on SACD by Praga and the Boston Symphony's own label issue of a performance directed by James Levine in 2008, BSO Classics SACD. To my surprise the Pentatone stood up well to this illustrious competition as a performance but not as a recording. The audibly clear winner was Levine, and as it happens, his was a rather more viscerally exciting rendering of the score combined with a superbly clean, detailed and spacious surround recording in which Ravel's huge forces have physical impact. The Pentatone comes over as rather veiled, especially the strings, so Ravel’s gorgeous lines are not able to make their impact so successfully. Gimeno also goes for richness rather than clarity with his Luxembourg and Cologne forces.

Listeners will enjoy this Pentatone issue I am sure, but less of the score comes across than is ideal, so be sure to obtain the Levine as well. Whatever you do, you are in for 55 minutes of wonderful music.

Dave Billinge



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

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