This is Ravel’s most sumptuous score, marks a number of firsts as it evokes the heady days of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris in the early years of the 20th century.
The recording was made under studio conditions at the Opéra Bastille, several months after the run of live performances in May and June 2014. It grew from performances of the classically-inspired ballet at Paris’ Opéra Bastille in Spring 2014: Philippe Jordan, Music Director of the Paris Opéra was conducting a complete ballet for the first time and the choreographer, Benjamin Millepied was undertaking his first major project for the Opéra before assuming his new role as its Director of Dance in Autumn 2014.
In an interview with the magazine Paris Match, Philippe Jordan described the impact of collaborating with dancers: “When I work on a symphony, it’s different. Here, the sense of phrasing, the physicality that dancers bring, make it something else.” He also pointed out that he has a certain heritage when it comes to ballet: “My mother was a dancer, and my father [the conductor Armin Jordan] worked a lot with ballet companies in the early stages of his career. Something must have been passed down to me!”
The recording also includes the Ravel ballet that Les Ballets Russes rejected originally, but has since been recognised as one of the composer’s most masterful scores: La Valse. “As with Daphnis et Chloé Ravel created in La Valse a genuine symphonic poem and initially intended to give it the titleWien,” explains Jordan. “Written after 1918, it is haunted by the ghost of vanished empire, a kind of wonderful yet fragile dream in which we catch glimpses of carefree innocence through the mists of direst calamity.”