Ravel: Ma mère l'Oye (Mother Goose) – complete ballet; Shéhérazade – ouverture de féerie; Le Tombeau de Couperin – Suite d'orchestre

Reviewed on Thu 02 Aug, 2018

François-Xavier Roth directs with abundant character, recreative flair and keen imagination. What's more, his hugely responsive colleagues play with considerable technical skill, expressive warmth and strong personality.

François-Xavier Roth and his remarkable period-instrument band Les Siècles follow up their electrifying account of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé (reviewed by yours truly on 3 April 2017) with another helping of the Frenchman's music. All three works were originally conceived for piano, and, as before, Roth directs with abundant character, recreative flair and keen imagination. What's more, his hugely responsive colleagues play with considerable technical skill, expressive warmth and strong personality, distilling the most gorgeously airy, transparent textures throughout. Particularly welcome is the inclusion of the youthful fairytale overture Shéhérazade (lent captivating advocacy here), while both larger offerings flanking it really make you sit up and listen, especially in terms of distinctively soft-grained timbre, rhythmic poise and disarming grace. Very fine sound, too, pieced together from live concerts at various different venues in France and the UK (not that you'd guess it). An altogether most stimulating and engaging release.
–Andrew Achenbach