Joint Venture Percussion Duo: Ravel, Dances and Fairy Tales

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The sound of this CD will be familiar to all parents of small children: there’s a plethora of CDs playing classic rock tunes on the vibraphone or marimba, everyone from Foo Fighters to lullaby versions of Pink Floyd (“sleepy side of the moon”, obviously). They do soothe babies, and parents get less irritating tunes than wheels on buses.

This has something of that soothing quality, though clearly the Joint Venture Percussion Duo — the snappy name that Rachel Xi Zhang and Laurent Warnier go under — are a tad more serious with their vibraphone and marimba arrangements of Ravel tunes. If you’ve not got access to small children: it’s the sort of music David Attenborough might use for a programme on life on the deep sea bed.

The opening piece is Le Tombeau de Couperin, written for piano, with a tombeau being (as its name might suggest) a tribute to a person who has died; six people in this case. The sleeve notes say the Ravel original is not mournful, and this is certainly the case for the JVP cover, which, like the album, is a lot of fun.

Ma Mère L’oye Suite was written for the children of family friends of Ravel, and like Le Tombeau, was a four-handed piano piece, focusing on five fairy tales. The closing piece is Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte.

Both are talented players and clearly good at arrangement, too. The music is nimble and fun to listen to, and tranquil in places. It’s possibly a bit Marmite and split the Review Corner between love and hate, so beware. It’s also possible you’d only want one such album but still: a nice listen.

Out on BIS, 9054.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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