COMPOSERS: Chabrier; Faure; Satie; Ravel
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Naida Cole
PERFORMER: Naida Cole (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 748 021-2
What matters is what you believe at the time, and Naida Cole convinced me I had never heard some of these pieces played so well, or at any rate, never in quite such a special way. Chabrier’s brilliant Bourrée fantasque has certainly never sounded so sure-fingered and effervescent, and the buoyancy and crispness of the two Pièces pittoresques make one wish Naida Cole had recorded the whole set. Easily the best Chabrier-playing on disc, though admittedly, the competition is not exactly hot. Her Fauré Ballade is less persuasive, because not quite warm or melting enough – it has a certain brittleness. But her Ravel is absolutely stunning. In Gaspard de la nuit, ‘Ondine’ is so quiet and well-controlled at times, it takes your breath away, and ‘Le gibet’ is an imaginative and technical tour de force, acutely sensitive but underpinned by nerves of steel. ‘Scarbo’, the last of the triptych, becomes really scary, with a secretive quickness of response that is beyond humankind. Satie’s first Gymnopédie is taken unusually slowly, though the grave beauty of Cole’s treatment justifies the tempo, and it leads very effectively into a deliciously evocative account of Ravel’s Jeux d’eau. An exceptionally accomplished disc.