Ravel • Stravinsky
Ravel: Miroirs; La valse; Stravinsky: The Firebird; Three Movements from Petrushka
Beatrice Rana (piano)
Warner Classics 9029541109 70:16 mins
As so often, it’s La valse that spoils the party. The score itself and Ravel’s endorsement of Ansermet’s interpretation, as found in his 1947 recording, both make clear that the work must be played straight through without pauses between sections. Only in this way do the attacks of Blake’s ‘invisible worm’ take on their full horror, leading to the final cataclysm. Of late such pauses have become habitual, so a 26-year-old pianist may be forgiven for being led astray. My only other complaint is over a tiny misreading in ‘La vallée des cloches’: in bars 32-33 the octave G’s should be repeated, not tied. Otherwise the ‘discovery’ of Beatrice Rana has excited me more than that of any pianist since Benjamin Grosvenor a decade ago. Her Miroirs are chock full of colour and drama, with much made of Ravel’s little spurts of hairpin energy – generally underplayed even in his lifetime, much to his chagrin, but reminding us that he inherited from his Basque mother a strain of pirate blood. Technically superb (repeated notes and glissandos right up to speed in ‘Alborada’) and using the full dynamic range of the instrument, she knocks for six any idea of Ravel the ‘petit maître’.
The two Stravinsky arrangements are brutal and delicate where required: no surprise that the Firebird one and Miroirs were a knockout at her Carnegie Hall recital in 2019. Such a shame about La valse. More importantly, though, a bright new star has unquestionably appeared in the pianistic firmament.