Complete Music for Piano Solo + Piano Concertos
Orchestre National de lOpera de Monte-Carlo, Alceo Galliera conducting
1993: Philips Classics/Duo 438 353-2
Piano Concerto in G
Gaspard de la nuit
Piano Concerto in D «for the left hand»
Le tombeau de Couperin
Theres so much Ravel richness here that I must leave most of my thoughts unexpressed for awhile as I strive to enunciate a few highlights.
Le tombeau de Couperin is one of my favorite Ravel piano piecesor, rather, most of it is. As both a listener and a pianist I find Forlane both capricious and gorgeous, a beautiful cluster of poses like Flamenco distilled to miniature form, and I absolutely adore it. Fugue is what its name says it is, although its so elliptical and seemingly unstructured that it doesnt seem so at first; when you do recognize the pattern(s), whether by ear or by playing it yourself, its like looking at a beautiful fabric and recognizing the knit as a logical but daunting one (totally appropriate for a fugue, of course) but its a crystalline strand of deftly woven fragments, not a hunk of macrame as some fugues can be when they get overly impressed with their brilliant pattern-work.
In Miroirs, three of the five pieces grab me. Well, actually, only Alborada del gracioso fails to do so. Noctuelles seems like a nocturnal-yet-hyperactive companion piece to Oiseaux tristes, and it contains a handful of those sequences that make it impossible to describe Ravels works without using the word exquisite. Oiseaux tristes itself is a brilliant melding of the abstract and the literal, with bits of birdsong translated into the language of the piano, all delicately draped like a constellation over a moodily indefinite ground. La vallée des cloches is the hidden gem here, however. Because of this piece Ive discovered Im a sucker for decent distant churchbells compositions/recording, those of Timo Väänänen, Loituma, and the Karelian Folk Music Ensemble being the only ones to truly vie for the top slot against Ravels effort.
My piano-playing level is nowhere near expert, being more lapsed prodigy at best and more like accomplished amateur overall, and what I love most to play are pieces that shimmer and resonate with harmonic flair and depth. La vallée des cloches is one of the many pieces I love to play just for the rapturous joy of playing and hearing that music.
Comments © 2006 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.