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Nightfall: works by Debussy, Satie & Ravel

Alice Sara Ott (DG)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Debussy: Rêverie; Suite Bergamasque; Satie: Gnossiennes Nos 1 & 3; Gymnopédie No. 1; Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit; Pavane pour une infante défunte
Alice Sara Ott (piano)
DG 483 5187   66:02 mins


A dreamy excursion through Paris by dusk, this elegant and atmospheric album from Alice Sara Ott marks ten years since the pianist signed to Deutsche Grammophon. Bringing together favourite works from Satie, Debussy and Ravel, Nightfall features some beguiling and beautiful playing, although occasionally lacks emotional punch.

Debussy’s Rêverie opens the disc and Ott plays with a mystery and delicacy that is entrancing at first but comes to lack variety. While such restraint is well suited to Satie’s enigmatic Gymnopédie No. 1 and Gnossiennes Nos 1 and 3, all executed beautifully by Ott, this Debussy feels a notch too subdued and in need of greater line and lyricism. Ott is more expressive in Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque, finding a hushed eloquence in ‘Clair de Lune’ that is captivating, although a touch more exuberance would be welcome in the mischievous ‘Menuet’. Ravel’s notoriously tricky Gaspard de la nuit conjures mysterious images of fleet water nymphs, corpses left suspended from the gallows and capering goblins, and Ott here responds with colour and flair, pacing the tension of ‘Le Gibet’ and its haunting bell-like tones with particular finesse. The disc closes with a stately performance of Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte to complete this imaginative and evocative celebration of twilight.


Kate Wakeling