Gershwin. Ravel

COMPOSERS: Gershwin. Ravel
LABELS: Divine Art
ALBUM TITLE: Gershwin. Ravel
WORKS: Rhapsody in Blue; Cuban Overture; ‘I Got Rhythm’ Variations. Ma mère l’Oye; Sites auriculaires; Fascination; Boléro
PERFORMER: Goldstone and Clemmow
CATALOGUE NO: Divine Art dda 25057
It might be thought that the works of Ravel and Gershwin would make natural bedfellows. The mutual admiration that the composers had for each other is well documented. Ravel was certainly not averse to including jazz or blues influences in his music, but the substantive pieces included occupy an entirely different aesthetic, even when inspired by Cuban dances. The charming intimacies of Ma mère l’Oye (Mother Goose) in particular are almost overwhelmed, sitting shyly between the bravura of Rhapsody in Blue and the Cuban Overture. Typically, Goldstone and Clemmow have researched the repertoire well, reinstating ‘Fascination’ as bona fide Ravel. They also include the tam-tam strokes indicated by the composer in the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ movement of Mother Goose, but omitted from the published score. While there are some nice touches in the Ravel, Goldstone and Clemmow, to misquote Debussy, make it impossible to forget that the piano has hammers. ‘Petit Poucet’ (Tom Thumb) plods heavily rather than meandering gently. Goldstone and Clemmow are at their best in the brasher music, which generally means the Gershwin pieces. Rhapsody in Blue is solid rather than spectacular, but the Cuban Overture has real élan. This is the one large work not recorded by the Labèque sisters (Philips & KML), but, in the others, they outclass Goldstone and Clemmow by some distance. Their irrepressible account of the Rhapsody has bags of character, while their ability to caress delicate textures out of the Ravel pieces, yet build to overwhelming climaxes is unsurpassed.