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Colin Anderson
Classical Ear, August 2017

Leonard Slatkin ebbs and flows the music persuasively and with a keen ear for detail and nuance. The main work is a complete (58-minute) Daphnis, afforded 15 tracks, and with the action detailed commensurately in the booklet note. Slatkin leads an expansive account, perhaps a little short on choreography and theatre, but this is a performance for the ears and the imagination, with much colour, expression and thrills, finely judged by the very responsive ‘insider’ Lyon Orchestra, whether corporate or in characterful solos, to match Slatkin’s symphonic approach, a seamless traversal of internal logical, warmth and clarity, sensitivity and excitement. As rendered by Spirito, the slower vocalise emerges as if it were plainsong; there’s plenty of exuberance, too. © 2017 Classical Ear, June 2017

Ravel’s expert orchestration carries with the ballet a kind of nostalgia, not so much for the legends of ancient Greece as for the gentle flowing of music of an earlier time, perhaps the 18th century. The wordless choruses (sung here by the choral group Spirito) add to the feeling of timelessness that melds with music that is harmonically very much of its time (1909–12) but that retains a feeling of being somehow beyond time itself—much like many of the old myths. …it is Ravel’s own 1906 orchestration of Une barque sur l’océan, the third of his 1904–05 Miroirs for piano, handled with consummate tastefulness and an especially lovely musical portrayal of the sea at its opening. © 2017 Read complete review

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, May 2017

Slatkin and the Lyon players capture thoroughly all the elements that make up the prismatic score to Daphnis et Chloé—its exoticism, its ethereality and mystery, its suave grandeur, and its elfin playfulness. Those familiar with the music are aware of its lush sonorities, the shimmering orchestral effects, the mesmerizing wordless vocalizing by the chorus and Ravel’s deft sense for contrast and orchestral color. It’s all here in this performance and in very vivid sonics…

The Danse religieuse has rarely come across with such luxuriance and warmth as here; the eerie and mysterious character of Danse lente et mystérieuse des Nymphes is played with a deft sense for understatement, for subtlety; and the colorful and varied music in Danse guerriere features all the drive and rhythmic excitement you could want and never descends into bombast, as can happen in lesser performances. Every number here comes across, it seems, with just the right spirit. This is an excellent effort all around, plain and simple.

…the orchestra plays splendidly, and the chorus, Spirito, sing with, well, spirit. …Strongly recommended. © 2017 Classical Net Read complete review

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, May 2017

Orchestral and choral execution is beyond reproach, and Slatkin deftly manages the music’s atmospherics—listen, for example, to the shimmering textures he draws from the orchestra in the “Danse lente et mystérieuse des Nymphs,” which sounds so prophetic of passages in Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, which was to come only five years later. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

John Quinn
MusicWeb International, March 2017

Slatkin conducts the ballet with evident understanding and his orchestra plays it very well. In addition, the choral contribution is excellent—the members of Spirito are heard to excellent effect in the extended and largely unaccompanied ‘Interlude’ at the start of Part II. They also sing quite splendidly in the big moments such as the Introduction, ‘Lever du jour’ and in the concluding ‘Danse générale’. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, February 2017

Slatkin emphasizes not so much the dramatic and archaic side of Daphnis et Chloé, but above all the sensuality, the reflective depth and the dreamlike impressions of the music. Even though it can be dramatic where needed, the orchestral playing amazes with its refinement and evocative nuances. © 2017 Pizzicato

Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, February 2017

This is the fourth volume in Slatkin’s Ravel cycle for Naxos recorded in Lyon, and I note that previous issues have received some mixed reviews. I would put this Daphnis high on the list of currently available recordings… Unlike early issues of the Dutoit recording, Naxos here provide copious tracks for individual sections of the score which means that the listener can select the rich textures of the Dawn sequence (track 13) or the beautifully poised flute playing in the Pantomime (track 14) for repeated listening—the flautist is not separately credited although the player would deserve such an accolade. As a brief filler we are given Ravel’s own orchestration of ‘Une barque sur l’océan’ from his piano suite Miroirs—a delightful bonus, atmospherically played and conducted. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Blair Sanderson, February 2017

The fourth installment in Leonard Slatkin’s series on Naxos of the orchestral works of Maurice Ravel features the complete 1912 ballet Daphnis et Chloé and the tone poem Une barque sur l’océan in spectacular performances by the Orchestre National de Lyon. Daphnis et Chloé is widely regarded as Ravel’s masterpiece, and the shimmering orchestration and lush harmonies that epitomize impressionism are lovingly rendered by Slatkin and the French orchestra. The sumptuous scoring and seductive melodies that made Daphnis et Chloé one of Ravel’s most beloved works are also at play in Une barque sur l’océan… The depiction of a small boat riding the surging waves is brilliantly captured, and the glistening timbres of woodwinds, harp, and strings convey the sea spray quite effectively. © 2017 Read complete review

Jonathan Gray
Dancing Times, February 2017

…the Orchestre National de Lyon and the Spirito choir give a ravishing account of the score under the baton of the veteran conductor Leonard Slatkin. Also included on the disc is Une barque sur l’ocean, which makes a good companion piece to the ballet music. © 2017 Dancing Times

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2017

Continuing Leonard Slatkin’s complete cycle of Ravel’s orchestral works with the Orchestre National de Lyon, we have the music to the ballet, Daphnis et Chloe. In recent years the score having become the property of international orchestras showcasing their virtuosity, a return to the composer’s birthplace is certainly most welcome, the Lyon musicians being distinguished for their subtle colours. That is immediately evident in the barely audible opening scene taking place in a serene meadow, the stage slowly filling with young men and girls carrying gifts for the nymphs. From therein our ears are seduced by the sheer beauty of sound, and one is struck by Slatkin’s unhurried tempos that would be ideal for the dancers in the entrance of Daphnis and Chloe. Neither does he exaggerate the following clumsy dance of the anti-hero, Dorcon, or the entry of the pirates who steal Chloe and carry her away with them. The Second part covers the rescue of Chloe and her return to Daphnis, the third section—and the one we normally hear in the concert hall—becoming one of happiness with a wordless chorus joining in the rejoicing. Throughout the dynamic markings are scrupulously observed by Slatkin, which is far from true in other recordings, the orchestra showing their brilliance in the Dance of the Pirates, the final Danse General bristling with excitement, the choir of the Lyon region, Spirito, adding to the texture without dominating. Play the recording by Radio France at a high volume setting for the best results, and as an ‘encore’ we have the orchestrated version of a movement from the piano work, Miroirs, picturing a Boat on the Ocean, oscillating between a rough and calm sea. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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