The Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus, under the direction of Philippe Jordan, were honoured at the French classical music awards, the Victoires de la Musique Classique, by taking the Prize for the best recording of the year for their rendition of Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé and La Valse.
At the award ceremony for the Victoires de la Musique Classique on February 24, 2016, the Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus led by Philippe Jordan were honoured with the Prize for the best recording of the year for Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé and La Valse. Recorded after a series of performances of Benjamin Millepied’s ballet at the Opéra Bastille in June 2014, the CD conveys a vitality born from a long-term collaboration with the Paris Opera Ballet. The prize highlights the deep commitment of the Orchestra and Chorus to do justice to the brilliant score of Daphnis et Chloé and the symphonic poem La Valse.
As Philippe Jordan points out: “Complete recordings of Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé are few and far between. I think the one we are offering is all the more precious because deep down it incorporates all the experience gained during the eleven performances of Benjamin Millepied’s ballet which we gave at the Opéra Bastille in the spring of 2014. Conducting that particular score at the head of the Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus had always been a personal goal of mine since my arrival in France. The experience I gained during the preparation and during the performances of that ballet taught me a great deal. In particular, it enabled me to determine a dramaturgical approach which was extremely useful when the time came for me to map out my own way forward in the score. That allowed me to use the music effectively to tell the story of Daphnis and Chloé as characters in themselves (which I’m delighted to see published in the libretto as it enables everyone to embark on an imaginary journey to Greece). This particular work is not only Maurice Ravel’s longest, it is also without question his most exceptional. That’s not to say I’m minimising masterpieces like La Valse or Boléro; however, the strength of the composition, the construction, the utter sophistication, the richness of the orchestration and the original use of the choruses make Daphnis et Chloé an unqualified success. I would also like to point out another of its qualities: the light it exudes. It evokes the light of Greece so magnificently—a Greece at once real and yet sublimated. It is a notion of Greece translated into music, Ancient Greece as dreamt of by Ravel. In it, the music sparkles, bubbles and shimmers. To borrow the title of the famous painting by Matisse, you sense a unique “joy of life”. For the CD, I also wanted to complement Daphnis et Chloé, with the magical Valse. As we all know, Ravel wanted to pay tribute to the Vienese waltz which for him was a touching expression of a world forever lost, a world before the disaster of the First World War. Incidentally, as with Daphnis et Chloé, Ravel truly created a symphonic poem with his Valse which initially was to bear the title “Vienna”. Composed after 1918, the work carries the ghosts of a lost empire. It is like a magnificently fragile dream imbued with a sort of naivety and insouciance that we can glimpse fleetingly through the fog of the direst of cataclysms. With this Valse, we are dancing on a volcano which is not yet extinct and which still threatens to erupt. The abyss is under our feet. I think it was in that frame of mind that Ravel composed this gem. It’s a form of requiem made all the more moving by the fact that it takes on the spellbinding form of a walz.”