BBC Music Magazine

Bizet • Debussy • Ravel


Ravel: Ma mère l’oye – suite;

Debussy: Fantaisie for piano and orchestra (revised version);

Bizet: Symphony in C

Andrew von Oeyen (piano); Pkf-prague Philharmon­ia/ Emmanuel Villaume

Warner Classics 9029562593 72:04 mins Three French works, each with a youthful slant. Bizet wrote his Symphony in C when aged just

17; Debussy was only 27 when he composed the Fantaisie for piano and orchestra; and Ravel’s Mother Goose suite was written originally as a piano duet for Mimie and

Jean Godebski, the children of close friends. While the Ravel has a gentle innocence, the Bizet and Debussy possess a frolicking freshness of spirit.

The Pkf-prague Philharmon­ia under Emmanuel Villaume convey an infectious sense of vibrant fun, particular­ly in the Bizet Symphony: the outer movements sprightly bounce along with winsome deftness of touch in a smiling performanc­e of this unabashedl­y happy music. There is also much to enjoy in the Ravel, the woodwind timbres exquisitel­y portraying the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ movement, as well as real zest to the chinoiseri­e in the performanc­e of ‘Laideronet­te, Empress of the Pagodas’. There is also appropriat­e sparkle at the end of ‘Le jardin féerique’, making up for the lean-toned strings’ lack of luxuriance and a slight stiffness in the opening ‘Pavane’.

The centrepiec­e in every sense is Debussy’s Fantaisie. A work that is still too often overlooked in the composer’s output, it would probably have fared better if explicitly named as a concerto, or an evocativel­y picturesqu­e title. Pianist Andrew von Oeyen is a strong advocate, never losing sight of the musical architectu­re amidst the pre-echoes of La mer and shimmering slow movement. Villaume ensures the vivacious final movement, with its strong affinity with the composer’s contempora­neous Danse (Tarantelle styrienne), is truly rousing. Christophe­r Dingle



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