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Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Miroirs (1904-05) [28:17]
Pavane pour une infant défunte (1899) [6:14]
Gaspard de la Nuit (1908) [23:32]
Carlo Grante (piano)
rec. 2013, Studio Glanzing, Vienna
MUSIC AND ARTS CD-1289 [58:05]

Carlo Grante has built up a formidable catalogue of recordings on Music and Arts. I’ve admired his Scarlatti recordings in particular (review), which show great taste and a sense of appropriate style. He turns to Ravel in this hour-long recital with results that are very much less convincing.

Miroirs tends to sound tonally rather unyielding in this performance and there’s an occasional blatancy of articulation that lacks the trés leger qualities necessary for Noctuelles. This element, which can tend to the brusque, is also present in Oiseaux tristes, whilst his rather gimlet-eyed, unatmospheric Une barque sure l’océan keeps any sense of playfulness firmly at bay. This similarly can sap Alborada del gracioso of a potential for metrical freedom. In Grante’s hands there’s a certain inflexibility to the line, which ends up sounding predictable. And for all that he brings out the bell peals in La vallée des cloches, he tends – as Gieseking does not – to lose sight of the musical narrative that animates them. The result, though technically eloquent, is somewhat statically scenic.

Sadly I feel much the same, though perhaps to a less marked degree, about Gaspard de la nuit. A nagging feeling throughout this disc that a hardness of tone has been exacerbated by a too-close recording level resurfaced here. The accompanying voices in Ondine are very insistent and limit much sense of allure. There are similar concerns about a lack of rhythmic flexibility. Narrative and tension-building through tone colour are too seldom encountered – there’s certainly little sign of them in Le gibet. Add to this a strangely clip-cloppy performance of Pavane pour une infant défunte and I’m afraid this disc disappoints.

Jonathan Woolf



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