For listeners who prefer their Ravel lushly textured, luminously colored, and luxuriantly impressionistic, this four-disc set of his orchestral music performed by Charles Dutoit and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal will be just the thing. Recorded between 1981 and 1995 in warmly opulent Decca sound and including all the canonical works plus the two piano concerts and the opera L'Enfant et les sortiléges, Dutoit's approach to Ravel is decidedly sensual, even tactile. One can feel the excitement in the closing "Dance générale" of Daphnis et Chloé, sense the energy in La Valse, smell the sea in Une barque sur l'océan, and touch the dancer's flushed skin in Boléro. This is not to say that details are lost in Dutoit's performances – with the superlative playing of the Montreal orchestra, one can assuredly hear everything in the scores. Nor is this to say that Dutoit neglects the music's clear shapes and lucid forms – with a decisive beat and a clean technique, Dutoit's interpretations are models of clarity. But it is assuredly to assert that, for sheer aural beauty, these recordings cannot be beat. With the very virtuosic and very French playing of Pascal Rogé in the two piano concertos plus very characterful singing in L'Enfant, this set will be mandatory listening for all those who love Ravel.
Henri Dutilleux's work has been gaining attention through a number of significant recent recordings. Esa-Pekka Salonen recorded his Correspondances with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and Ludovic Morlot has recorded both his symphonies, as well as other works, as the new conductor of the Seattle Symphony. This opportunity to experience and appraise his work casts him as among the most significant French composers of the late twentieth century.
Antonio Caldara is one of those composers from Italy whose career brought him to Vienna, where he composed and performed mainly oratorios. He started his career in Venice where he was born in 1670 and where he studied with Giovanni Legrenzi. Being an accomplished cellist he was probably a member of the orchestras of the opera houses in Venice. In the 1690's he published two collections of trio sonatas, which are following the example of Corelli. His first opus, published in Venice in 1693, was again published by Roger in Amsterdam in 1698, a sign of their popularity. The chaconne which concludes his collection of 12 trio sonatas opus 2, could be interpreted as a tribute to Corelli, who also concludes his opus 2 with a chaconne.