Can we ever have enough Ravel? Certainly not when the performances are this good. For the second disc in his traversal of Ravel’s orchestral works, Robert Trevino and the Basque National Orchestra offer an enticing mix of familiar and unfamiliar items. You get an aptly crystalline performance of the elusive Valses nobles et sentimentales, fortified by an appealing lightness of rhythm, followed by the zillionth version of the unkillable Menuet antique. Frontispice, a tiny “avant-garde” work originally written for piano five-hands, and here orchestrated by Pierre Boulez, comes off sounding very much like, well, Pierre Boulez. So now we know where he got much of his own inspiration.
The Shéhérazade Overture, Ravel’s first big orchestral work, seldom gets played and the reasons aren’t surprising. It’s long (14 minutes here), kind of formless, and lacking in memorable ideas, but of course the orchestration is marvelous and it’s good to have such a vivid new recording and performance. Finally, there’s the complete Mother Goose ballet, one of Ravel’s major masterpieces. This version is gorgeous, nicely flowing in the main numbers, and full of atmosphere in the evocative interludes between them. Trevino wisely refuses to sentimentalize the concluding “Fairy Garden,” which sounds so much more touching for just that reason. In short, this is a lovely, interesting program that offers far more than the “same old Ravel.” It’s a keeper.