Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Complete Solo Piano Works
Florian Uhlig (piano)
rec. June 2012-November 2013
HANSSLER CLASSIC CD93.318 [3 CDs: 54:25 + 65:14 + 56:10]
This is the first complete set of Maurice Ravel’s solo piano music. It includes both the unpublished early works, like La Parade, and the very published, but somehow forgotten, piano suite from Daphnis et Chloé. Daphnis waited for its first-ever piano recording until Vincent Larderet in early 2014, and now the second has arrived just months later.

Completeness would not be very important if Florian Uhlig was not a talented pianist. He is. Every interpretation here is, at a minimum, good, with the best ones being considerably more than that. Gaspard de la Nuit improves as it goes: “Le Gibet” is stoic and the morbid bell chimes steadily and insistently. “Scarbo” is dazzlingly fast and virtuosic at 9:05, and full of spectacularly creepy, exciting playing. Sérénade grotesque is brash and flippant, and Uhlig’s Daphnis is a thrill ride, too. Can you imagine the savage pirate war dance as a solo piece? It’s here, and it’s fully convincing.

Le Tombeau is a little less even. The prelude has weird swings in tempo, and you become acutely aware of the slow-downs. But the fugue is an admirable balance of impressionism and baroque clarity, and the final toccata is a total thrill ride. Uhlig even manages to speed up for the spectacular final bars. This will never be my favorite Miroirs — not even in the last few years; Herbert Schuch’s recording is spectacular — but the literal approach which fails in Les cloches actually does fine by an unsentimental Jeux d’eau. Uhlig also offers a quick, rock-solid, neo-classical Sonatine that favors energy over daintiness.

Overall, I think Florian Uhlig is most at home in the big, virtuosic music: Scarbo, Daphnis, the slick — though not too showy — La valse. However there are no bad performances here, and only a couple of average ones. In terms of completeness and audiophile sound, this is the only serious choice for Ravel piano music. Artistically, Uhlig at his best can compete with recent recordings by Bavouzet, Thibaudet, or Tharaud. Well worth getting, especially if you have yet to hear the piano Daphnis.

Brian Reinhart

CD 1
Jeux d’eau [4:54]
Miroirs [27:16]
A la manière de Chabrier [1:52]
A la manière de Borodine [1:27]
Pavane pour une infante défunte [5:40]
Menuet sur le nom d’Haydn [1:45]
Menuet [0:51]
Sonatine [10:40]
CD 2
Le tombeau de Couperin [23:21]
Prélude in A minor [1:24]
Daphnis et Chloé, fragments symphoniques [19:06]
La Valse [11:13]
CD 3
Gaspard de la nuit [21:26]
Sérénade grotesque [3:24]
Menuet antique [6:01]
La Parade [11:08]
Valses nobles et sentimentales [14:11]

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