COMPOSERS: Claude Debussy,Gabriel Fauré,Maurice Ravel
ALBUM TITLE: Debussy • Fauré • Ravel
WORKS: Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, Debussy’s Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra, Fauré’s Ballade for Piano and Orchestra Op. 19
PERFORMER: Valerie Tryon (piano)/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Jac van Steen
CATALOGUE NO: Somm SOMMCD 258
A breath of springlike air arrives with this programme of French works for piano and orchestra: subtle, sparkling and poised, the three pieces complement one another very well.
The Debussy Fantasie is a concerto in all but name, though the composer streamlines the soloist amid the orchestral textures rather than setting them in opposition after the Romantic model; it’s an earlyish work, from 1889, and still too rarely heard. The Fauré started life in its solo piano version; but the composer rethought it with orchestra after showing the original to Liszt, who declared, on sight-reading the piece, that he had ‘run out of fingers’. The Ravel concerto needs little introduction: cool, jazzy and brilliant, it remains irresistible.
Valerie Tryon’s playing offers beauty of tone, natural musicality and poetic tenderness, differentiating the soundworld of each work: the Fauré dreams, the Ravel glitters. There’s one major problem with the disc, though: it’s the acoustic. Henry Wood Hall is over-resonant for a full orchestra and does the delicate intimacy of this repertoire few favours. Textures are too often subsumed into the general wash, tempos occasionally turn sluggish – quite possibly as a result of that setting – and there’s rather a feeling that the music can’t get off the boggy ground, despite Tryon’s best efforts and those of the RPO and Van Steen.