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Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Miroirs (1904-1905) [27'48]; Gaspard de la nuit (1908) [20'25]; Le tombeau de Couperin (1914-1917) [25'56]
David Korevaar (piano)
rec. Recital Hall, Purchase College of Music, New York, July 2000. DDD
MSR CLASSICS MS1125 [72'04]

I have only once come across David Korevaar's playing, on a disc of Brahms Variations also for this company (Brahms Opp. 9, 21 Nos. 1 and 2, D minor Variations from the Sextet and Op. 24; Ivory Classics 74004), which seemed rather mixed in its merits. This Ravel disc finds Korevaar on ground on which he obviously feels more at home.

Miroirs is given a thoughtful and sensitive reading. The bleak world of 'Oiseaux tristes' is particularly well captured - almost tending towards Messiaen around 4'20, before veering to Spain. The extrovert - and famous because of its orchestral guise - 'Alborada del grazioso' is clearly enjoyed by the pianist here. 'Alborada' was written for the music critic M. D. Calvocoressi. Korevaar, in his own booklet notes, writes, 'The idea of a music critic as 'court jester' to a musician-heavy circle of artists is certainly delicious!'. Hmmmm.

Interesting that Gaspard is placed in the middle of the recital, given the virtuosic leanings of its final 'Scarbo'. The booklet even finds space to publish translations of the Bertrand prose poems which inspired the work - there are no multi-lingual translations of Korevaar's text itself, so there is more space available, I suppose. A nice idea. The desolation of 'Ondine' and the concentrated atmosphere of 'Le gibet' both prepare the way for a spooky, buzzing 'Scarbo', with appropriate fantastic elements.

Finally, the Tombeau de Couperin - for those familiar only with the orchestral version, the piano has two further movements. Certain movements emerge better than others. The Prelude is nicely shaped, the Fugue placid. But the Forlane suffers from a touch of the plodding, and it almost seems as if Korevaar is either bored with this movement or he just plain does not like it. The finale (Toccata) buzzes nicely, but is that an edit I hear literally just before the end - around 3'58? The timing for the entire movement is 4'08. There appears to be some shift of perspective, anyway a shame, as there is much to admire on this disc, not least the sensitive Miroirs.

Worth investigating if not a Ravelian front-runner.

Colin Clarke



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