L'eventail de Jeanne / Axelrod, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire

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We know L’Éventail de Jeanne (Jeannes’s Fan), a collaborative ballet in ten movements by ten composers, primarily from Ravel’s opening Fanfare and Poulenc’s Pastourelle, but the other numbers have plenty of appeal. Roussel’s bittersweet Sarabande adds weight to an otherwise frothy brew, while Florent Schmidt’s concluding Kermesse-Valse provides a buoyant concluding apotheosis. Other savory bits include a polka by Darius Milhaud and perky Canarie by Alexis Roland-Manuel, but it’s all good fun and played here with exemplary spirit and point by John Axelrod and the Loire ensemble.

Here’s an interesting tidbit. Poulenc’s Pastourelle appears to be a nearly literal crib from the “Balalaika” movement that concludes Stravinsky’s Suite No. 1 for small orchestra (sound clips). I wonder if this was noticed at the time?

Ravel’s Mother Goose makes a logical coupling–another children’s ballet, composed and scored with a similarly light touch. Axelrod’s is a sensitive performance, a touch on the slow side, perhaps, but well-proportioned and sensitively detailed. The orchestra plays quite well, with the many woodwind solos sweet and smooth, if perhaps lacking the ultimate character that we hear from Martinon (EMI/Warner) or Ozawa (DG). Axelrod dwells lovingly on the concluding Fairy Garden, and when the music is so beautiful who can blame him? This disc, in short, is a joy. Don’t overlook it.

– ClassicsToday (David Hurwitz)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: October 14, 2016

  • Catalog Number: 8573354

  • UPC: 747313335473

  • Label: Naxos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Albert Roussel, Alexis Roland-Manuel, Darius Milhaud, Florent Schmitt, Francis Poulenc, Georges Auric, Jacques Ibert, Marcel Delannoy, Maurice Ravel, Pierre-Octave Ferroud

  • Conductor: John Axelrod

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire