Author Topic: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?  (Read 26685 times)

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Offline Todd

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Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« on: July 08, 2007, 01:32:03 PM »
Is it




or





?

Thatís one tough call.

At the beginning of the year I picked up Abbey Simonís 1970s Vox recordings of Ravelís solo piano music and was simply amazed.  Iíd tried Simonís Chopin before, and while itís good, it simply didnít prepare me for his Ravel.  I was used to a certain, almost straight-laced approach and sound to Ravel, even from the great Walter Gieseking.  Simon is pretty much as un-straight-laced as can be.  Everywhere and always he manipulates tempi and plays with such subtle dynamic shading that one cannot possibly hear everything in the first twenty hearings.  His flexibility and re-creative freedom is simply a marvel.  Every work is rendered fresh and new.  His Gaspard de la nuit is dashed off with a virtuosic arrogance that hides the virtuosity.  He plays brief passages of Scarbo in a blocky fashion, not because heís challenged, but because heís not challenged enough.  He tears into the piano version of La Valse with control and panache and a color palette most pianists canít touch.  Every other work, from the dazzling, appropriately sparkling Jeux díeau to the serenely elegiac Pavane pour une infante dťfunte are mezmerizingly played.  Surely, though, the crown jewel in Simonís set is his titanic reading of Miroirs.  Never have I heard such fluidity and grace and swelling magnificence in Une barque sur Líocťan, or rhythmic flexibility and solidity in Alborado del gracioso.  Combine Simonís playing with superb analog sound that allows his amazing color palate through in a way his Chopin recordings do not, and one has a treat of immense proportions.  An amazing, miraculous set!

I was sated.  Such a great recording of Ravelís piano music should suffice not just for a year, but for many years.  But then I picked up Jean-Efflam Bavouzetís recording on MDG.  His achievement is on the same level, yet is quite different.  The set opens with a Gaspard nearly the equal of Simonís, which is to say itís an extraordinary one.  Le Gibet, in particular, is haunting, and Scarbo mischievous and delivered in astonishing fashion.  From Miroirs, Oiseaux tristes deserves special mention, opening as it does in a most wondrous subdued manner and unfolding in a most natural and graceful way.  The small works all fare extraordinarily well, but Bavouzet delivers perhaps the best versions Iíve heard of both Valses nobles et sentimales and Le Tombeau de Couperin.  The Valses all sound absolutely magnificent: they have a gracefulness and effortless and flow that eludes other versions, which may even sound crude in comparison.  Le Tombeau is perhaps more impressive.  The three dance movements have the same effortlessness and gracefulness, and they posses a lightness and beauty and deep frivolity that simply amazes.  (Yes, deep frivolity.)  The more ďseriousĒ movements are so meticulously played that one can do nothing other than sit and listen in utter amazement.  Mr Bavouzetís technique is superb, his touch varied, colorful, and insightful.  (I simply must hear his Debussy!)  As to sound, well, Iíve read that Michelangeli once said something to the effect that no piano is good enough for Gaspard de la nuit.  If he had lived to hear this recording, he may very well change his mind.  The 1901 Steinway D sounds stunning, and the recording is beyond Audiophile perfect in every way.  Another amazing, miraculous set! 

Of course my opening question is rhetorical.  I love both these sets, but I cannot live without either Walter Gieseking or, especially, Robert Casadesus in this repertoire.  And of course there are other superb recordings of individual works, but these two sets are both special.  The Bavouzet, in particular, offers something special.  Here is proof that great pianism is not only not dead, itís thriving, if only one looks around a bit. 
« Last Edit: July 08, 2007, 01:34:54 PM by Todd »
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Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2007, 06:14:38 PM »
Thanks Todd. The only complete set I own is Gieseking and I enjoy his Ravel much more than his Debussy. I listened to some of Michelangeli's (far from a complete set) recently and was generally disappointed, given that I think he was the greatest interpreter of Debussy's piano music I've ever heard. Michelangeli's approach is so hyper-detailed and transparent, it is too much of a good thing; I think Gieseking had a superb sense of  how so subordinate some of that detail to the overall feeling and flow of the works--especially important in the extremely complex ones like Ondine and Scarbo.

I need to get Casadesus soon, but your two recommendations will certainly also end up in my collection before too long.

« Last Edit: July 08, 2007, 06:18:37 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2007, 06:31:50 PM »
Todd - thanks for your excellent reviews of these two sets - I own the Louis Lortie set which I've enjoyed, but now I must hear one or both of those you suggest!   :)


Offline Bogey

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2007, 06:47:47 PM »
I have:



but would like to hear the Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, as it has been mentioned positively on GMG before.
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2007, 08:45:44 PM »
Man, I've been beating a drum for that Bavouzet set for eons, now!

Get it, folks!
 
And not just for Bavouzet's spectacular playing. The 1901 Steinway D is a honey-sweet instrument and is sheer aural bliss!


Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline rubio

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2007, 10:42:54 PM »
My only set so far is from Samson Francois (6-CD Debussy and Ravel set on EMI). How does Abbey Simon and Bavouzet compare to him?
ďOne good thing about music, when it hits- you feel no painĒ Bob Marley

Offline Florestan

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2007, 01:26:44 AM »
What do you think of this one?

Les sanglots longs
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Blessent mon coeur
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Monotone.

Offline Todd

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2007, 05:45:52 AM »
How does Abbey Simon and Bavouzet compare to [Francois]?


I prefer both pianists to Francois, though I still enjoy Francois. 

Haven't heard Tharaud yet.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

BorisG

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2007, 08:58:13 AM »
What do you think of this one?



This approaches none of the leaders. Surface playing, headache timbre.

It does have items you will not see elsewhere, so in my view that would be the only reason to purchase.

Sean

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2007, 11:56:09 PM »
I bought the Paul Crossley (on CRD?), but can't recommend it too much- he can be too charmless and brittle. Some of his Faure though is extremely good, both the beautiful early nocturnes and the ear-bending late barcarolles etc, letting the music speak for itself without being too self-effacing as in the Ravel.

Offline E d o

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2007, 06:33:50 AM »
My vote goes to Vlado Perlemuter. I haven't found any readings I like more. I believe he knew Ravel quite well too.

Offline Todd

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2007, 07:09:11 AM »
My vote goes to Vlado Perlemuter. I haven't found any readings I like more.


Which recording?  He recorded the set twice.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

BorisG

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2007, 02:00:13 PM »
I bought the Paul Crossley (on CRD?), but can't recommend it too much- he can be too charmless and brittle. Some of his Faure though is extremely good, both the beautiful early nocturnes and the ear-bending late barcarolles etc, letting the music speak for itself without being too self-effacing as in the Ravel.

In recent years I have had a change of heart for some of his recordings. For the Crossley Ravel rebirth, it may be a change of heart for style plus an appreciation of Regis label's cherry-picking for a single CD. Everything seems to click on the single. I could not say that for the two CRD, heard years previous. The Regis is also a remastering, but I cannot say whether this had any significant persuasion. It certainly hasn't hurt.


Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2007, 04:33:43 PM »
My vote goes to Vlado Perlemuter. I haven't found any readings I like more. I believe he knew Ravel quite well too.

Interesting. I stumbled upon his recording of the G minor concerto when I first started collecting LPs back in the early 90s. I loved the warmth and lyricism of his interpretation, especially the second movement. I still have not heard another performance that quite matches his.

Did he record most or all of Ravel's piano works?
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2007, 04:37:05 PM »
Can anyone comment on the differences between these two sets? I need to get at least one if not both!



If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

m_gigena

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2007, 07:37:11 PM »
My only set so far is from Samson Francois (6-CD Debussy and Ravel set on EMI).

His dťtachť is unique and superb.


What about Jacques Fevrier?

Sean

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2007, 10:56:28 PM »
In recent years I have had a change of heart for some of his recordings. For the Crossley Ravel rebirth, it may be a change of heart for style plus an appreciation of Regis label's cherry-picking for a single CD. Everything seems to click on the single. I could not say that for the two CRD, heard years previous. The Regis is also a remastering, but I cannot say whether this had any significant persuasion. It certainly hasn't hurt.



I also bought Crossley's complete Poulence on three CDs: again much idiomatic playing and sensitivity, it's just that he's not French and doesn't find the light colours and richness of Pacal Roge for instance...

Offline E d o

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2007, 08:25:29 AM »
If I had to choose between Perlemuter's Vox or Nimbus discs I'd take the Nimbus. It's a bit more insightful and sensitive reading from a more mature artist. The Concerto in G on the Vox box is great but the Left Hand Concerto is downright strange and dark and I don't mean that in a good way. It almost sounds like the tape speed is off too. I think the problem here is Horenstein and not Perlemuter. Perlemuter also has two recital discs with some Ravel. One at the BBC and the other on Denon, both are well worth owning.

BorisG

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2007, 09:18:15 PM »
I also bought Crossley's complete Poulence on three CDs: again much idiomatic playing and sensitivity, it's just that he's not French and doesn't find the light colours and richness of Pacal Roge for instance...

Oh, oh. I have no problem with the Roge preference, but I will not buy into a French blood theory, or any other country's blood for classical music.

FYI, Crossley studied extensively in Paris, and in 1968 won the Messiaen Competition in Royan.

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Whatís the best complete set of Ravelís piano music?
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2007, 11:37:40 PM »
Thanks EDO. They're cheap enough, I'll probably get them both.
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

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