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Hyperion Records

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Nympheas (1908) by Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Private Collection / Photo © Peter Nahum at The Leicester Galleries, London / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67731/2
Recording details: September 2010
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: March 2011
Total duration: 15 minutes 0 seconds

'The music is as ravishing as ever, but what intelligence, clarity and deftly lit atmosphere there is in the playing of it!' (Gramophone)

'Throughout, Osborne repeatedly demonstrates not merely that these performances stand with the best, but also that comparisons are superfluous in the face of such a compelling vision … his sustaining of the Epilogue is magical, as if not wishing to relinquish the spell of this recital. It is over all too soon' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Steven Osborne, ever a poised, technically impeccable virtuoso, combines clarity with heart. All a shimmering pleasure' (The Observer)

'Steven Osborne brings his masterly interpretative acumen to bear with a touch and temperament that combine eloquence and deftness. Landmark works are set alongside various less frequently heard miniatures in performances that live and breathe Ravel’s distinctive world of sound, radiating luminous patterns and scintillating colour' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Such is the high quality, and the small quantity, of Ravel's keyboard music, that there is phenomenal competition in this repertoire from the likes of Gieseking, Pizarro, Lortie, Thibaudet and many others, but Osborne's accounts can hold their own with any of these. His technical command is truly staggering … very highly recommended: even among the greatest of competition, Osborne may have set a new benchmark' (International Record Review)

'[Osborne's] Ravel strikes me as finer yet than his Debussy. He has devised the most compelling sequence of works, making two quite distinct and complementary programmes of this highly diversified but relatively small oeuvre … he brings transcendental Lisztian virtuosity and an astonishing palette of sonorities to the fiendish Gaspard pieces' (The Sunday Times)

'Osborne gauges the iridescent colours of Miroirs faultlessly and turns Gaspard de la nuit into a quasi-orchestral fantasy. This is the finest Ravel anthology of the CD era' (Financial Times)

'These supreme interpretations of Ravel's piano music by Steven Osborne lead me to say something that's been in my mind for a decade. It first struck me when I heard his definitive recording of Messiaen's Vingt Regards, and popped up again in subsequent recordings, especially his awesome disc of Beethoven Piano Sonatas. But absolute confirmation arrived with this stupendous double CD with gob-smacking performances of Gaspard de la nuit and Miroirs, and a fast, fleet performance of the Sonatine. Steven Osborne is one of just a few pianists recognisable by his sound' (The Herald)

'[Osborne's] awe-inspiring technical command in the Gaspard gives even Michelangeli a run for his money, and I have yet to hear a more sovereign performance of the half-hour Miroirs from any living pianists. Osborne is also near-perfect in the Valses nobles et sentimentales and his La valse is jaw dropping' (Pianist)

'This is a Ravel set to sit with those of Thibaudet and Bavouzet … unhesitatingly recommended' (International Piano)

Valses nobles et sentimentales
composer
1911; first performed by Louis Aubert on 9 May 1911

Assez lent  [2'11]
Modéré  [1'22]
Assez animé  [1'01]
Presque lent  [1'17]
Vif  [0'37]
Moins vif  [2'29]
Epilogue: Lent  [4'49]

Other recordings available for download
Artur Pizarro (piano)
Angela Hewitt (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
No clearer example can be found of Ravel’s determination to avoid repeating himself than his Valses nobles et sentimentales, following on the atmospherics (themselves differentiated) of Gaspard and Ma mère l’oye for piano duet. Here the style, as he said, ‘is simpler and clearer, in which the harmony is harder and the lines of the music are made to show up’. The epigraph at the head of the score, ‘the delightful and ever novel pleasure of a pointless occupation’, suggests that the notes provide their own rationale; but the Henri de Régnier novel from which the quotation comes deals with a young man’s amorous adventures, so, as often with Ravel, there is a tension between strict form and unbounded emotion. In coaching the work, he insisted on the cross rhythms being brought out, and Vlado Perlemuter remembered: ‘I had never seen his eyes so bright—he was so determined on being understood.’ After the seven waltzes, the Epilogue recalls various themes, and here for the first and only time the music is enveloped in a nostalgic haze. Louis Aubert gave the first performance on 9 May 1911 in a concert where the composers’ names were withheld until the end and the audience was asked to guess them. Some guessed Ravel, some Satie and Kodály, and some condemned the Valses as unmusical and cacophonous. Certainly they represented a new Ravel.

from notes by Roger Nichols © 2011


Other albums featuring this work
'Ravel: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 2' (CKD315)
Ravel: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 2
MP3 £8.00FLAC £10.00ALAC £10.00 CKD315  Download only  
'Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Music' (CDA67341/2)
Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Music

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