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Track(s) taken from CDA67731/2

Valses nobles et sentimentales

1911; first performed by Louis Aubert on 9 May 1911

Steven Osborne (piano)
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

Cover artwork: Nympheas (1908) by Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Private Collection / Photo © Peter Nahum at The Leicester Galleries, London / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

Artur Pizarro (piano)
Angela Hewitt (piano)


'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)
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

On ne peut trouver d’exemple plus clair de la détermination de Ravel à éviter de se répéter que ses Valses nobles et sentimentales, qui prolongent l’ambiance (elle-même différenciée) de Gaspard et de Ma mère l’oye pour piano à quatre mains. Ici, comme le dit Ravel, «une écriture nettement plus clarifiée, qui durcit l’harmonie et accuse les reliefs de la musique». En tête de la partition, l’épigraphe, «le plaisir délicieux et toujours nouveau d’une occupation inutile», suggère que les notes trouvent leur propre logique; mais le roman d’Henri de Régnier dont provient la citation parle des aventures amoureuses d’un jeune homme et il y a donc, comme si souvent chez Ravel, une tension entre la forme stricte et l’émotion démesurée; en faisant travailler cette œuvre, Ravel a insisté pour que les contre-rythmes ressortent et Vlado Perlemuter a déclaré: «Je n’avais jamais vu tant d’acuité dans son regard, il y avait chez lui un tel désir d’être compris.» Après les sept valses, l’Épilogue rappelle divers thèmes et ici, pour la première et unique fois, la musique est enveloppée dans une brume nostalgique. Louis Aubert en a donné la création le 9 mai 1911 dans un concert où les noms des compositeurs n’ont été divulgués qu’à la fin et où l’auditoire devait les deviner. Certains ont avancé le nom de Ravel, certains Satie et Kodály, et certains ont accusé les Valses nobles d’être discordantes et cacophoniques. Il ne fait aucun doute qu’elles représentaient un nouveau Ravel.

extrait des notes rédigées par Roger Nichols © 2011
Français: Marie-Stella Pâris

Ravels Entschlossenheit, sich nicht zu wiederholen, ist nirgendwo deutlicher zu sehen als in seinen Valses nobles et sentimentales, die auf die (differenzierten) atmosphärischen Effekte von Gaspard und Ma mère l’oye für Klavierduo folgen. Hier ist der Stil, wie er selbst sagte, „deutlich klarer, er verhärtet Harmonie und unterstreicht die Konturen der Musik“. Das Epigraph zu Beginn der Partitur, „das köstliche und stets neuartige Vergnügen einer nutzlosen Beschäftigung“, deutet an, dass die Töne eine Begründung ihrer selbst sind. In Henri de Régniers Roman jedoch, aus dem dieses Zitat stammt, geht es um die amourösen Abenteuer eines jungen Mannes; wie so oft bei Ravel ergibt sich hier also eine Spannung zwischen strenger Form und unbegrenzter Emotion. Wenn seine Schüler das Stück lernten, bestand er darauf, dass die Kreuzrhythmen herausgearbeitet wurden; Vlado Perlemuter erinnerte sich: „Noch nie hatte ich eine derartige Schärfe in seinem Blick wahrgenommen—so sehr war er darauf erpicht, richtig verstanden zu werden.“ Nach den sieben Walzern erscheinen im Epilog die verschiedenen Themen noch einmal und hier ist die Musik zum ersten und einzigen Mal von einem nostalgischen Nebel umhüllt. Am 9. Mai 1911 gab Louis Aubert die Premiere; in dem Konzert wurden die Namen der Komponisten bis zum Schluss zurückgehalten und das Publikum wurde aufgefordert, sie zu erraten. Manche rieten Ravel, manche Satie und Kódaly, und manche erklärten die Valses als unmusikalisch und misstönend. Zweifellos repräsentierten sie einen neuen Ravel.

aus dem Begleittext von Roger Nichols © 2011
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

Other albums featuring this work

Ravel: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 2
Studio Master: CKD315Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Music
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