Rene Leibowitz. Ravel: L’Heure Espagnole. 1952 Vox recording

Considering that there have been relatively few recordings of Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole in the years since this 1952 version, it’s worth noting that 3 different versions appeared at nearly the same time as this Vox release,  led respectively by Ernest Ansermet and Andre Cluytens.  Those versions have remained more accessible than this one conducted with much authority by Rene Leibowitz.  I grew up listening to the Ansermet version, which possesses similar orchestral timbres and a basic sense of the textures.  The differences are perhaps subtle but notable:  Ansermet’s elegant proportions are entirely appropriate, but the overlying sense is that he relishes the clockmaker’s milieu in his own watchmaker’s precision.  Leibowitz, on the other hand, while yielding nothing in terms of precision, emphasizes the sensuality and the often fragrant orchestral colors.  The other aspect in which this version really excels is the humor, which is memorably projected be Leibowitz and his cast.  Janine Linda’s Concepcion is full of insinuations and coy (but never cloying) portamenti; by comparison Ansermet’s Danco is beautiful and elegant but a bit cool by comparison.  Of the supporting cast, I especially enjoy Lucien Mans’s Don Inigo Gomez, who fully enjoys the long-in-the-tooth aspect of the character.

Ravel:  L’Heure Espagnole
Concepcion: Janine Linda
Gonzalve: Andre Dran
Torquemada: Jean Mollien
Ramiro: Jean Hoffman
Don Inigo Gomez: Lucien Mans
Rene Leibowitz, Conductor
L’Orchestre Radio-Symphonique de Paris
de la Radiodiffusion Francaise
Recorded c. 1952
Vox PL 7880


Note:  The back cover scan pictured above (as well as the front cover at the top of the post) is a better scan than the one included in the download file.  Please click on the thumbnail and save this image.

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6 Responses to Rene Leibowitz. Ravel: L’Heure Espagnole. 1952 Vox recording

  1. John Harper says:

    A wonderful offering. More Leibowitz please…..

  2. maready says:

    Thank you very much for this — it’s odd how neglected this little masterwork is. It’s really Ravel in a very vivid nutshell with all the clocks ticking and the crazy furniture. I love Denise Duval and Suzanne Danco (on the Cluytens and Ansermet respectively) and look forward to making the acquaintance of this recording. And thanks for all the Coppola — the transfers are great. In fact, I should thank you again for ALL your efforts over the years: a quick glance at the names in the ‘categories’ list at the right reminds me just how many historical discoveries I’ve made here. Even more telling is that just about all of the transfers I have downloaded from you remain in active rotation on my various IPods. So thanks again, particularly for the introduction to musicians I didn’t know (Stepan, Wührer, Pedrotti …..)

  3. Paul says:

    I wonder if the recordings of the Beethoven symphonies that Liebowitz made for Reader’s Digest with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have ever been made available again. It would be good to be reminded of those performances . . .

  4. tatifan says:

    That Beethoven set was available from Chesky, but seem OOP. Now there’s one from the label Scribendum, but some report the transfer is inferior. Great performances!

  5. tatifan says:

    Btw, check out this picture of Leibowitz sitting on his Ford Thunderbird!

    which is from this page devoted to Leibowitz:

  6. top0gigi0 says:

    Merciii, il y a l’enfant et les sortileges?

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