Review by: ClassicsToday
Artistic Quality: 8
Sound Quality: 10
Reveries is “Adagio” all over again, with slightly faster tempos. Reference Recordings’ unabashed bid to tap into the easy-listening market may well claim the commercial success of its Deutsche Grammophon predecessor and undoubtedly will appeal to the music directors of holistic spas and dentist offices. With the exception of the selections from Wolf-Ferrari (“Intermezzo” from The Jewels of the Madonna) and Massenet (The Last Sleep of the Virgin), all of the works on this disc are famous and well-documented on countless recordings. As usual, Reference offers a luminous and lush sonic production, which serves this music well since it relies a good deal on atmosphere to achieve its effect.
The Minnesota Orchestra and its various soloists execute the notes flawlessly (in particular, a lovely English horn solo in The Swan of Tuonela), although outgoing conductor Eiji Oue conducts each piece as if written by the same composer. As such, for all of their virtuosity and élan, the performances are somewhat unimaginatively rendered and thus come across as one-dimensional, homogenized, and more appropriate for background listening. Ravel’s Pavane sounds just like Fauré’s; the Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, while excellently played, lacks the ardent passion heard from Bernstein (Sony) and Stokowski (EMI). The principal defect of this effort, though, is the short track spacing (two seconds) between each work, thus precluding the possibility of lapsing into any sort of reverie before being jolted immediately by the introduction of a new piece. However, if today’s stressed-out listeners can withstand this minor annoyance, then by all means make some herbal tea, stretch out on the chaise, and unwind to these dulcet tunes.
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Recording Details:Album Title: REVERIES
Reference Recording: none for this compilation
Various works by Debussy, Satie, Fauré, Grieg, Massenet, Wolf-Ferrari, Gounod, Ravel, Tchaikovsky, & Sibelius -