Ravel: Miroirs; Pavane pour une infante défunte; Jeux d’eau; Prélude; À la manière de Borodine; À la manière de Chabrier; Sérénade grotesque; Menuet sur le nom de Haydn

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Ravel
LABELS: Analekta Fleurs de lys
WORKS: Miroirs; Pavane pour une infante défunte; Jeux d’eau; Prélude; À la manière de Borodine; À la manière de Chabrier; Sérénade grotesque; Menuet sur le nom de Haydn
PERFORMER: André Laplante (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: FL 2 3038 (distr. Canterbury Classics)
Ravel orchestrated so many of his piano pieces that the temptation is to suggest that they are short-score versions of orchestral works. This would be to overlook Ravel’s genius for orchestration, since his writing for the piano is both idiomatic and thoroughly original. Nevertheless, it is difficult not to think of particular orchestral textures when listening to certain works: trilling piccolo in ‘Une barque sur l’océan’ (Miroirs), for instance, or pizzicato strings in Pavane pour une infante défunte.

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Such thoughts tend to arise when listening to exceptionally accomplished performers who seem to have enlisted a small orchestra of colleagues in order to give individual attention to the many layers of music.

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André Laplante is such a performer. Sensitive to minute changes of timbre or dynamic even between fingers of the same hand, his ability to clarify textures whilst retaining a sense of nail-biting excitement or enthralled hush is breathtaking. Flourishes in ‘Alborada del gracioso’ sparkle like crystal, while the downward plunge in Jeux d’eau feels as if it is ripped from the inside of the piano, and yet only the Pavane seems the least bit heavy-handed. The enticing programme and wonderful sound make this a very desirable disc. Christopher Dingle