Ravel: Miroirs; Gaspard de la nuit; Le tombeau de Couperin

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Ravel
LABELS: Forlane
WORKS: Miroirs; Gaspard de la nuit; Le tombeau de Couperin
PERFORMER: Abdel Rahman El Bacha (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: UCD 16737
It is a pity that this recital begins with Miroirs. The virtuosity of El Bacha’s playing is never in doubt. That this is combined with a delightful attention to the subtleties of Ravel’s music and an innate affinity with the mood of each piece is also apparent throughout. Unfortunately El Bacha is unable to grasp the natural ebb and flow of the rhythmic ostinati which underpin much of Miroirs. These groups of repeating patterns should be approached as an entity and whilst they do not need to be played at a uniform tempo, they should not be distorted too violently by the rubato of the other parts. His disregard for basic dynamics is also puzzling.

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Gaspard de la nuit is performed with finesse and passion. The nightmarish scenes, from the hushed desolation of ‘Le gibet’ to the dissolute bombast of ‘Scarbo’, are disquieting even after repeated hearings. The more cheerful, crisp textures of Le tombeau de Couperin provide the perfect panacea for Gaspard and the performance is marred only negligibly by hints of the rhythmic problems of Miroirs. Christopher Dingle