Ravel began work on the score in 1909 after a commission from Sergei Diaghilev. It was premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris by his Ballets Russes on June 8, 1912. The orchestra was conducted by Pierre Monteux, the choreography was by Michel Fokine, and Vaslav Nijinsky danced the part of Daphnis. Léon Bakst designed the original sets.
The work is written for a large orchestra consisting of piccolo, 2 flutes, alto flute, 2 oboes, English horn, E-flat clarinet, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, tam-tam, wind machine, triangle, bass drum, field drum, castanets, tambourine, celesta, crotales, glockenspiel, 2 harps, wordless choir and strings in eight parts. When Diaghilev took the ballet to London in 1914, he omitted the chorus, which prompted Ravel to send an angry letter to The Times newspaper (see editions of June 9, 10 and 17).
At almost an hour long, Daphnis et Chloé is Ravel's longest work. In spite of the ballet's time length, a small number of musical motifs gives musical unity to the score. The music, some of the composer's most passionate, is widely regarded as some of Ravel's best, with extraordinarily lush harmonies typical of the impressionist movement in music. Even during the composer's lifetime, contemporary commentators described this ballet as his masterpiece for orchestra. He extracted music from the ballet to make two orchestral suites, without the chorus. The second of the orchestral suites, which includes much of the last part of the ballet and concludes with the "Danse generale", is particularly popular. When the complete work is itself performed live, it is more often in concerts than in staged productions.
Rameau: Anacreon; Daphnis et Egle (suites for orchestra). Mary Terey-Smith, Capella Savaria. Naxos 8.553746.(Review)
May 01, 1998; Rameau: Anacreon; Daphnis et Egle (suites for orchestra). Mary Terey-Smith, Capella Savaria. Naxos 8.553746. As I have mentioned...