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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: 29 minutes 53 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)

Miroirs
composer
1905; first performed by Ricardo Viñes on 6 January 1906

Noctuelles  [4'49]
Oiseaux tristes  [4'33]

Other recordings available for download
Artur Pizarro (piano)
Angela Hewitt (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In the five pieces entitled Miroirs, written in 1905, Ravel’s compositional technique is clearly at work, but less patently than in the earlier works. The fast appoggiaturas in ‘Noctuelles’ and the sudden spurts of crescendo paint a picture of night moths flitting in the darkness, while the birds of ‘Oiseaux tristes’ utter their short–long call ‘in a very dark forest during the hottest hours of summer’. With ‘Une barque sur l’océan’ we emerge into the daylight. Here is a water piece that escapes the constraints of Jeux d’eau, or at least gives the impression of doing so, riding on a surge of arpeggios from start to finish. Ravel explained that the character of the clown (gracioso) in ‘Alborada del gracioso’ was humorous, but with an edge to him—less well meaning than Beaumarchais’s Figaro—and no doubt the drier tone and lighter action of the Erard pianos Ravel favoured would have accentuated the sharpness of the arpeggiated ‘guitar’ chords and repeated notes. ‘La vallée des cloches’ is the only one of the five pieces that reflects a particular reality, the sound of midday bells in Paris. Ravel demanded that each bell should have its own timbre, ‘within a pianissimo which he could, in some mysterious way, produce without it sounding feeble’. When Viñes gave the first performance of the set on 6 January 1906, ‘Alborada’ was encored.

from notes by Roger Nichols © 2011


Other albums featuring this work
'Ravel: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 1' (CKD290)
Ravel: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 1
MP3 £8.00FLAC £10.00ALAC £10.00 CKD290  Download only  
'Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Music' (CDA67341/2)
Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Music
'Stephen Hough's French Album' (CDA67890)
Stephen Hough's French Album

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