Ravel/Debussy/Stravinsky: Gaspard de la nuit; Pour le piano; La cathédrale engloutie; Three Movements from Petrushka

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COMPOSERS: Ravel/Debussy/Stravinsky
LABELS: Mercury Living Presence
WORKS: Gaspard de la nuit; Pour le piano; La cathédrale engloutie; Three Movements from Petrushka
PERFORMER: Gina Bachauer (piano) John Gielgud (reciter)
CATALOGUE NO: 434 359-2 ADD (1964/63)
The ‘rare collaboration’ means that Aloysius Bertrand’s Gaspard poems, translated by Christopher Fry, alternate with music. That is enough to make the disc unmissable for Gielgud fans. His iron-throat-in-velvet-mouth grace delivers a persuasive English parallel to Ravel’s stylised horror score. Bachauer ups the pace: her flair used to range much more widely than her thunderous Brahms Proms late in life. Sadly, ‘Le gibet’ has an unfortunate editing blip. The Debussy suits her generous, robust approach – Cécile Ousset is a modern parallel – while Stravinsky’s stamping rhythms are unstoppable. The piano tone breaks the cast-iron barrier to become a dizzy peal. Robert Maycock

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