I was curious to discover what this famous recording sounded like in its latest manifestion as a SACD Living Stereo compact disc. I had owned an earlier version of it, on a long-play 12" record, forty years ago. Well the new version is very good indeed. It's a beautifully refined recording; the musicians perform flawlessly throughout and the direction under Charles Munch is dramatic and highly expressive. This "Daphnis and Chloe" was, I think, only the third recording of the complete ballet at that time (1955), with Ernest Ansermet's being the first, in May 1953, and Desire-Emile Inghelbrecht's the second, in 1954.
It would be idle to pretend that nearly 60 years after it was made the RCA recording offers sound that can rival more recent versions of the ballet. The versions under Charles Dutoit, from Montreal in 1980, or Pierre Boulez, with the Berlin Philharmonic, from 1995, are clearly superior in respect of sheer hi-fi. But the Munch has and deserves the status of a classic, and this compact disc is astonishingly good, most especially in terms of musicianship.
If you want to irritate the neighbours with a wall of sound, look elsewhere; if you want Ravel writing at the top of his very considerable game, buy this disc.