Ravel: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 (CD)

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Orchestre National de Lyon, Leonard Slatkin

Ravel orchestrated his piano pieces Alborada del gracioso and Pavane pour une infante défunte to great effect; the former gains in suggestive colour, and the latter evokes nostalgic pathos. Another orchestrated work is the Menuet antique, which is redolent of old French dance forms Rapsodie espagnole, Ravel’s first major orchestral work, shimmers with expectancy and bursts into Spanish dance rhythms, themes he pursued in Pièce en forme de habanera. His earliest orchestral work, the ‘fairy overture’ Shéhérazade, is all that remains of a planned opera based on The Thousand and One Nights. The famous Boléro, an ‘orchestrated crescendo’ of undimmed power, has proved one of the most popular works in all classical music.

“Slatkin draws a vivid sound from the Lyon players, with a wide range of dynamics and colours. No one could do more for the early Shéhérazade overture...Boléro too comes off well, with no accelerando from the commendably sedate opening tempo.” - BBC Music Magazine