Classical Music: Replay

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe ballet Dallas SO / Eduardo Mata Ravel: Mother Goose suite Boston SO / Charles Munch (Recorded 1958-1979)
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The Independent Culture
First, there's the 1979 Dallas sound picture, a lustrous "close- up" job, rather like those endearingly aggressive Mercury recordings from the 1960s. In fact, it's something of a sonic tour de force, with velvety string lines, pin-point instrumental positioning and a powerful bass response - although not everyone will take to the airless acoustic. Eduardo Mata was a master of timing and texture; he stalks Ravel's sensual climaxes with panther-like cunning, mesmerises his (uncredited) chorus for an aromatic Scene 2 prelude, then shifts to a top-gear "Orgiastic Dance of the Pirates". Passages such as Chloe's "Dance of Supplication" and the celebrated "Pantomime" from the so-called Second Suite evoke a hedonist's paradise, but the "Danse generale" - which Mata takes at a potentially effective slow tempo - veers towards excessive caution.

Mid-price CD competition is fairly healthy (Pierre Monteux and Charles Munch being Mata's strongest rivals), but none quite matches this Navigator CD for joist-shaking impact. Munch offers a succulent makeweight in Mother Goose, a full-bodied offering with silky plumage and very little in the way of a true pianissimo. Here the sound is constricted and the "Fairy Garden" fussily tended, although the music is magnificent and the playing extremely accomplished. Great value, albeit with paltry annotation.