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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CKD290
Recording details: September 2006
Teatro São Luíz, Lisbon, Portugal
Produced by Philip Hobbs
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: February 2007
Total duration: 22 minutes 46 seconds

'Volume one of Pizarro's complete cycle of Ravel's piano music includes two major works, Miroirs and Gaspard de la nuit, and the astonishing piano transcription of La Valse. Pizarro matches the grandeur of Ravel's inventions note-for-note. With the opening movement of Miroirs, Pizarro delicately pedals Ravel's looking-glass textures, while the folksy 'Alborada del gracioso' from the same cycle is snappy enough to make anyone shout 'olé'. Volume two? Bring it on' (Classic FM)

'The Portuguese-American pianist hit the heights when he won the Leeds Competition back in 1990 at the age of 22. Established as a virtuoso, he has constantly expanded his range and musicianship ever since, with recent successes including live accounts of Ravel in London and Lisbon. Virtuosity is certainly needed for a Ravel selection that mixes the Gothic horrors of Gaspard de la Nuit with the shadowed atmospherics of Miroirs. As well as a super-refined approach to sonority, Pizarro has every note where he wants it, plus the power to whip the increasingly opulent decadence of La valse up to a shatteringly self-destructive climax' (The Independent on Sunday) » More

'Ravel was a meticulous craftsman, the fastidious creator of some of the most exquisitely ‘perfect' music ever written. He thrived on the discipline imposed by setting himself a unique task with every score, so much so that at times you can almost sense him thinking out loud, bringing to mind Stravinsky's affectionate description of him as ‘the most perfect of Swiss clockmakers'. Pizarro, I'm glad to say, chooses to bathe Ravel's luminous textures in an affectionately warm glow, shaping Ravel's exquisite lines with an unashamed affection and textural luminescence to have the listener falling in love with these priceless gems all over again. The infamous ‘Alborada del gracioso' (from Miroirs) lacks nothing in virtuoso dash, yet what impresses most is Pizarro's ability to conjure up a tangible atmosphere of sultry decadence. No less impressive is the haunting malevolence of ‘Le gibet' (Gaspard de la nuit) … Ravel's piano music has rarely been so magically captured on disc as here by engineers Philip Hobbs and Julia Thomas' (International Piano) » More

'Artur Pizarro [stellt] sich als intimer Kenner der französischen Klavier-Schule vor. Er verfügt über eine sehr feine Technik, bewältigt die erheblichen Herausforderungen mit guter Geläufigkeit und schafft es, Ravels kompositorische Ideen ohne Schatten umzusetzen. In herrlich leichten Läufen, perlenden Tonketten präsentiert er seinen zarten Zugriff und legt die delikate Faktur der Musik offen. Trotz aufblitzender Brillanz hat Pizarro genug Geduld, um auch verhaltene Sätze intensiv zu gestalten. Dazu verhilft ihm auch ein sehr kontrollierter Anschlag, der feinste dynamische Differenzierungen erlaubt. Insgesamt präsentiert Arturo Pizarro einen vielversprechenden ersten Teil des Klavierwerks Maurice Ravels: Als intensiver Interpret findet er zur notwendigen Mischung aus Eleganz, Brillanz, Kraft und Zurückhaltung, mischt genug Zweifel und ironisch gebrochene Leichtigkeit in „seinen“ Ravel – man wird den Fortgang des Projekts mit Interesse verfolgen können' (Klassik.com, Germany) » More
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING

Gaspard de la nuit
composer
1908; inspired by the poetry of Aloysius Bertrand; first performed by Ricardo Viñes on 9 January 1909

Other recordings available for download
Angela Hewitt (piano)
Steven Osborne (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Although Ricardo Viñes had arrived in Paris in 1887 as a boy knowing no French, he soon learnt large portions of French literature by heart and it was he who introduced Ravel to Aloysius Bertrand’s book of poems Gaspard de la nuit, written between 1832 and 1836 and published in 1842. The poems appealed to Ravel’s love of fairytales and the supernatural, and to his taste for Edgar Allan Poe’s macabre stories. The spirit of Liszt also hovers over Ravel’s three pieces, in the brilliance of the writing and no less in its technical demands. The water nymph Ondine tries to lure the author down to be king in her underwater palace: beauty and danger are wonderfully combined in Ravel’s score, and to this end he asked that Ondine’s theme should not stand out but should be absorbed into the surrounding atmosphere. Likewise in ‘Le gibet’ the bell, ringing for the corpse of the hanged man glowing red in the setting sun, ‘does not dominate, it is, it tolls unwearyingly’. Sad to say, Viñes insisted on livening up the piece, and after the premiere on 9 January 1909 Ravel entrusted him with no more first performances. Scarbo, the malevolent dwarf, here one moment, gone the next, is the master of surprises: ‘How many times have I heard his laughter buzz in the shadows of my alcove, and his fingernails scratching on the silk curtains round my bed!’ Ravel admitted that he had wanted to write a piece more difficult than Balakirev’s Islamey, but that ‘perhaps I let myself get carried away!’

from notes by Roger Nichols © 2011


Other albums featuring this work
'Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Music' (CDA67341/2)
Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Music
'Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Music' (CDA67731/2)
Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Music

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