The Naxos issue, vividly recorded, makes an ideal Milhaud collection, surveying a wide range of his long career. It includes his two most popular works, the ballets Le Boeuf sur le toit (1919) and La Création du monde, both reflecting his dalliance with jazz and the music of South America. Jean-Claude Casadesus conducts the Lille Orchestra in warmly idiomatic performances which combine refinement with rhythmic bite. The rarity is an even earlier ballet, L’Homme et son désir, written in 1917–18 to a scenario by Paul Claudel, set in the primeval Amazonian forest. The exotic scoring is for solo wind and strings, with a very large percussion section and four solo voices singing wordlessly. The atmospheric colours of the piece are brilliantly caught, with the eight brief movements of the Suite provençale as an attractive makeweight, taken in 1936 from incidental music to a play.
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