Ravel: Introduction and Allegro; Rapsodie espagnole; Entre cloches; Ma mère l’oye; Shéhérazade Overture; La valse; Frontispice

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Ravel
LABELS: Somm
WORKS: Introduction and Allegro; Rapsodie espagnole; Entre cloches; Ma mère l’oye; Shéhérazade Overture; La valse; Frontispice
PERFORMER: Jennifer Micallef, Glen Inanga (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SOMMCD 025
Ravel’s music for two pianos – rather than the four-hands, one-piano through which the composer came to know so many of the great Russian scores – offers some exhilarating opportunities. Admittedly, only two and a quarter of the eight works represented here were originally written for that combination – the Habanera, later incorporated into the Rapsodie espagnole, Entre cloches which, like the comparable movement in Rachmaninoff’s First Suite, exploits the bell-ringing opportunities of the two-piano form, and the 15-bar Frontispice for a book of war-poems, bringing in a fifth hand for a brief polytonal riot. Hand in glove with a very dry, immediate recording, the Royal Academy-trained duo of Jennifer Micallef and Glen Inanga bring a new kind of focus to the better-known pieces, etching clear melodic outlines in the Rapsodie’s ‘Prélude à la nuit’ and sending La valse close to the precipice fairly early on. They could afford to be a little more liberal with dance rhythms – the Spanish ‘Feria’ almost defeats them, and it’s a pity that Ravel’s first Shéhérazade doesn’t sashay a little more beguilingly, though the savagery of the young composer’s rather contrived climaxes sounds effective enough. Best, perhaps, are the ringing naiveties of Ma mère l’oye, which culminates in a truly radiant display of fairy fireworks. David Nice

Advertisement