Le Langage des fleurs – Prélude; Valses Nobles et Sentimentales; Le Tombeau de Couperin; A la Manière de Borodin; A la Manière de Chabrier; Menuet sur le nom d’Haydn; Pavane pour une Infante défunte; Sonatine
Ann Martin-Davis (piano)
Guild GMCD7825 68:42 mins
This is evidently a labour of love. Ann Martin-Davis has curated an effective and intelligent selection of Ravel’s piano music that displays both its integrity and diversity. The disc’s title, Le Langage des Fleurs, is taken from the subtitle to Adelaide, the ballet choreographed to the orchestral version of Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales. It also reflects that, while selecting from across the composer’s output, these pieces belong broadly to the more intimate, neoclassical side of Ravel.
Supported by a warm recording from Guild, Martin-Davis brings a fine touch, with some enticingly creamy textures in the little Prélude that opens disc, poignant inflections in the ‘Forlane’ from Le Tombeau de Couperin and an engaging insouciance in A la manière de Borodin. The Valses nobles et sentimentales can be elusive, but Martin-Davis captures their ebb and flow so that their spirit comes through. Nonetheless, while the works here eschew the post-Lisztian bravura of Gaspard de la nuit, the ‘Toccata’ of Le Tombeau still needs more dazzle and the last movement of the Sonatine should sound ‘Anime’ rather than careful. This is an attractive disc, but Stephen Osborne’s outstanding complete Ravel set (Hyperion) brings both poetry and breath-taking virtuosity.