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Ravel: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2

Orchestre National De Lyon , Slatkin Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product Description

Product Description

Maurice Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales present a vivid mixture of atmospheric impressionism, intense expression and modernist wit, his fascination with the waltz further explored in La valse, a mysterious evocation of a vanished imperial epoch. Heard here in an orchestration by Marius Constant, Gaspard de la nuitis Ravel's response to the other-worldly poems of Aloysius Bertrand, and the dance suite Le tombeau de Couperinis a tribute to friends who fell in the war of 1914-18 as well as a great 18th century musical forbear. 'It is a delightful and assorted collection... presented in splendid performances by the Orchestre National de Lyon led by their music director, the venerable American conductor Leonard Slatkin' (Classical.net/ Volume 1, 8.572887).

Product Description

Valses nobles et sentimentales - Gaspard de la nuit - Le tombeau de Couperin - La valse / Orchestre National de Lyon - Leonard Slatkin, direction

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5.0 out of 5 stars Another fine addition to this vital collection Dec 9 2013
Format:Audio CD
I reviewed the first volume of the orchestral works of Ravel with Leonard Slatkin and the Orchestre National de Lyon a couple of months ago and found it well worth having. This second one is, perhaps, even better. Ravel's gift for orchestration is one of his trademarks. Especially in his waltz pieces is his flair for wonderful harmonies and delicate little sonic touches very apparent. The "Valses nobles et sentimentales" are a very charming set of short waltzes whose tone varies from the very refined and subdued to the more bombastic and celebratory. His "La valse" is well known for its gradual building and stunning, Spanish inflected feel. Slatkin paces all these works just perfectly and does not rush anything, capitalizing on the variety in the scores. Ravel intended "Le tombeau de Couperin" as a tribute to some friends who died in the first World War. Originally a piano piece, this is not a quote of any of Francois Couperin's keyboard masterworks but a tribute to their style. Ravel himself orchestrated the set for a ballet performance in 1920. The one work here not actually orchestrated by Ravel is "Gaspard de la nuit." Inspired by the writings of Aloysius Bertrand, Ravel intended the third movement, "Scarbo", to be one of the most virtuostic and difficult piano works one could play. Russian composer Marius Constant orchestrated the present version in 1990 (a previous version being done by Eugene Goosens in 1942) Each of these works illustrates Ravel's passion for both dance music as well as his love of earlier forms and the French Baroque. Slatkin is a gifted Ravel interpreter and has made outstanding recordings of his works on many occasions, including the present. I greatly admired the first volume of this collaboration on Naxos, like I said. This one is a very fine followup and I strongly recommend having both in your collection.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fine addition to this vital collection Dec 9 2013
By Daniel R. Coombs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Another fine addition to this vital collection. I reviewed the first volume of the orchestral works of Ravel with Leonard Slatkin and the Orchestre National de Lyon a couple of months ago and found it well worth having. This second one is, perhaps, even better. Ravel's gift for orchestration is one of his trademarks. Especially in his waltz pieces is his flair for wonderful harmonies and delicate little sonic touches very apparent. The "Valses nobles et sentimentales" are a very charming set of short waltzes whose tone varies from the very refined and subdued to the more bombastic and celebratory. His "La valse" is well known for its gradual building and stunning, Spanish inflected feel. Slatkin paces all these works just perfectly and does not rush anything, capitalizing on the variety in the scores. Ravel intended "Le tombeau de Couperin" as a tribute to some friends who died in the first World War. Originally a piano piece, this is not a quote of any of Francois Couperin's keyboard masterworks but a tribute to their style. Ravel himself orchestrated the set for a ballet performance in 1920. The one work here not actually orchestrated by Ravel is "Gaspard de la nuit." Inspired by the writings of Aloysius Bertrand, Ravel intended the third movement, "Scarbo", to be one of the most virtuostic and difficult piano works one could play. Russian composer Marius Constant orchestrated the present version in 1990 (a previous version being done by Eugene Goosens in 1942) Each of these works illustrates Ravel's passion for both dance music as well as his love of earlier forms and the French Baroque. Slatkin is a gifted Ravel interpreter and has made outstanding recordings of his works on many occasions, including the present. I greatly admired the first volume of this collaboration on Naxos, like I said. This one is a very fine followup and I strongly recommend having both in your collection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Ravel Jan. 9 2014
By Dean Frey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Leonard Slatkin has been really busy recording for Naxos in the past few years, completing a Rachmaninov series in Detroit, and playing French music with the Orchestre National de Lyon. This is the second disc of Ravel's orchestral music, to go along with music by Berlioz. I found Slatkin a bit cool in the first disc, though I praised the playing of the orchestra and the sound provided by the Naxos engineers. This disc has the latter strengths, with strong playing from the Lyon woodwinds and brass especially, and lifelike sound that perfectly sets off Ravel's Gallic charms. As to the direction of the music, Slatkin is perhaps feeling more at home with the orchestra, or these three works - the Valses nobles et sentiment ales, Gaspard de la nuit in Marius Constant's orchestration, and Le tombeau de Couperin - have captured his interest more than those in the first disc. Or maybe I'm warming to Slatkin's reserved approach. In any case, this music is captivating, and provides a delightful and welcome respite from the daily grind.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old and New Dec 3 2013
By Oscar O. Veterano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray Audio
RAVEL “Orchestral Works” 2 Naxos
Orchestre National de Lyon Leonard Slatkin

In this, their second recording of orchestral works by Maurice Ravel, the Orchestre National de Lyon (led by the great Leonard Slatkin) gives another interesting and professional performance of his early 20th century compositions, all of which, except “La valse”, were originally written for piano.

Both “Valses nobles et sentimentales” and Le tombeau de Couperin” were orchestrated by Ravel shortly after they were written, allowing comparison of their impact as solo piano and, later orchestrated works. “La valse”, commissioned and rejected by Serge Dyagilev, is the only piece presented here which was originally done as a fully orchestrated work. All three compositions, utilizing 18th and 19th century dance forms and 20th century harmonic ideas, show Ravel as an era-straddling composer, inspired by and indebted to the past, but firmly committed to modernism and musical evolution.

The one questionable inclusion here is Maurice Constant’s orchestration of “Gaspard de la nuit”. Produced 82 years after Ravel’s original composition (again, as a solo piano piece) it is, at best, an educated guess as to the composer’s intentions.

That said, this is a solid, well made recording by a very good orchestra, led by one of the world’s best conductors, of music which is not heard as often as it deserves to be and which highlights Maurice Ravel’s contribution to the development of 20th century music.

Highly recommended 81/2 out of 10 Oscar O. Veterano
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slatkin is rather routine, but the orchestra and recorded sound are excellent Jan. 8 2014
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This CD has going for it Naxos's excellent, detailed, close-up orchestral sound and the refined playing of Slatkin's Lyon orchestra. He's so little known for French music that it's odd to have appointed him music director, and vol. 1 of this Ravel series was only so-so. Not much has changed in the second installment. The Valses nobels et sentimentales are done in perky fashion, sticking firmly in the middle of the road. Even so, the musicians know the score like the back of their hands, and the pulse rises and falls with a few knowing Gallic winks.

Next up is a novelty, a 1990 orchestration of Gaspard de la nuit, a score so pianistic in its effects that one expects it to defy transcription, not to mention that certain effects (like the distant funeral bell that tolls throughout Le gibet) demand the utmost virtuosity. Replacing it with a bell struck by one of the percussionists isn't remotely the same thing. Some purists will hate what constant is done, but I liked it at least as much as the recently popular transcriptions of Debussy Preludes by Colin Matthews. Of course the new version isn't really a Ravel orchestral work, and it's not orchestrated as eerily or nimbly as Ravel himself would have done (see his transcription of Alborada del graciso), but it stands comparison with orchestral versions of Albeniz's Iberia.

Tombeau de Couperin flows well form the orchestra, and if Slatkin isn't really able to draw out a more piquant reading, the one he gets suffices. Finally there's La valse, long a showpiece for sound effects from a great orchestra. Slatkin's impatient pacing is meant to make the music more exciting, I suppose, but his refusal to linger deprives us of the full eerie, shadowy color palette that Ravel painted with. In all, this is a more than passable program, but t offers no serious rivalry to great Ravel conductors like Karajan, Monteux, and Munch.
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