Sunday, March 7, 2010
Music Director and Conductor Myung-Whun Chung and his Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France flew into Davies Symphony Hall tonight on gossamer wings performing an all Ravel concert on the 135th anniversary of the French master's birth. It was a performance to be savored: there was a lushness of sound, dynamic contrasts that revealed Ravel's mood changes rather than rushing over them, and tempos that illuminated delicate textures without losing momentum. Performing the complete Ma Mere l'Oye ballet rather than the suite, Chung chose relaxed tempos that made the final Enchanted Garden an overwhelming emotional experience. The audience cheered and some stood, unusual for a first piece in a concert. Although it was difficult to hear Anne Sofie von Otter in our balcony seats in Asie, the first poem of Sheherazade, her clear and resonant mezzo-soprano voice shone in the final two poems. An enlarged orchestra, superb dramatic pacing and an outstanding flutist (Magali Mosnier, I think) made the two Daphnis and Chloe Suites a dramatic tour de force. The missing chorus added definition to the composer's orchestral texture. The finale was a performance of La Valse that honored Ravel's diverse tempos, rather than rushing through to the end. Especially effective was the final waltz, strings lushly and slowly crooning the waltz before the terse, dramatic ending. Simply superb. The audience didn't stop standing and cheering until the Maestro led his orchestra off stage.